Archive for March, 2009

The Saga of the Homeless Hacker, Pt. 1

Posted in The Saga of the Homeless Hacker on March 8, 2009 by chaosincarnate

In 19 hours, I’ll be homeless. So, my girlfriend and I have spent the last 48 hours cleaning and packing madly. In addition to that, I’ve been re-assembling my bag of tricks, largely to keep myself entertained. Fortunately, we have a fast connection.

I’m not too worried, however. Well, not about myself. We’re going to stay with some of my Girlfriend’s friends for awhile. Mostly, I’m worried about my cat. We’ve got food, we can get him water, and we can improvise a litterbox, but he’ll still likely be all cooped up in my car for awhile. On the bright side, it’ll give me an excuse to walk my cat, something that gets some really funny reactions out of people.

I’m actually not as worried as I thought I’d be. After my court date, I was really really stressed and freaking out… then I had one of those moments of clarity, where I realized everything was going to be ok.

Truthfully, it’s kind of liberating. I’ve got decent internet through my phone wherever I go, (The Treasure Valley in Boise has a really good EDGE network), plus, it works well enough that I still get calls and SMS (Even email!) while it’s tethered.

I’ve also got a couple of contract gigs, which adds a little bit to the war chest. (Plus, pizza on the job!)

This is going to be a running series for awhile, so stay tuned. If nothing else, it gives me a reason to post everyday, or close to it.

For the Curious:

My bag of tricks (One standard size beat-up backpack.) consists of: 

  • My laptop (With standard cords, and a standard mouse.)
  • My PSP and associated cords
  • Spare AA and AAA batteries
  • A tech toolkit (Screwdrivers, pliers, crossover and loopback ethernet adapters, a patch cable)
  • A security live DVD (Backtrack, if you’re curious)
  • My USB watch with portable apps and portable python on it
  • Ubuntu 8.04 and XP install discs
  • My G1 and cordage
  • My Leatherman knockoff

As much as I’d like to keep my Python Cookbook handy, it’s probably 1200 pages too large.

Web/Desktop Apps.

Posted in Programming and Internet on March 5, 2009 by chaosincarnate

I like having desktop apps. It comes from a long time of having a flaky connection at best. But there’s an interesting convergence of web and desktop apps.

Take my blog writer, for example. I use ScribeFire. It ties in with my browser, and I can edit posts offline, and post them when I’m done. I really like it.

You could make the case that since it’s a hard firefox extension, it’s still a desktop app. But seriously, what’s the benefit of a blog editor without an internet connection?

Look at Gmail. For a long time, I used Thunderbird. But, with Gears integration, I can just take my Gmail offline with me. I can write an email, set it to send, and next time I’m connected to the mighty Google Cloud, it’ll send.

I also used to use Sunbird. I even had it tied with my Google calendar. But, I found myself more firing up Firefox to view or tweak my calander than Sunbird.

There’s a lot of really compelling features in Gmail that are hard to match in any other app. Calendar integration is a good example. Google Talk, Google Docs integration… all awesome.

In fact, the only cloud app I don’t use more online than offline is office stuff. There’s just something about being able to fire up a word processor. Though, with what is likely another stint of crappy internet, just for kicks, I’m going to try.

Once upon a time, webmail was quirky, and definitely not as good as a good desktop client. Online Documents usually meant “Save in word, upload somewhere.”

It’s funny to me to look at things now, where in a lot of cases, web apps are more full-featured and awesome than the desktop versions. Some of it has to do with the sharing and collaboration you can only get in the Cloud.

But some of it is just better applications. Which, truth be told, I still have a hard time getting my head around.

My main offline apps are Eclipse (IDE), Gimp and Inkscape, and games.

There is a cloud-based editor, Bespin. It’s ridiculously cool, but still in Beta. AFAIK, it’s only got Javascript syntax highlighting, but all kinds of awesome. It’s something I can see _TONS_ of potential in. Especially if there’s live collaboration ala google docs. How cool would it be to just open up sourceforge, look through and make changes, and save them instantly.

I’ve not seen any decent Gimp or Inkscape tools online (Though, I haven’t looked either).

And a lot of games I play you won’t find online. But, there’s always Newgrounds or Kongregate.

Still, it’s enough to get me fascinated with thinking about what applications will look like in 5 years.

Don’t Worry, I’m from the Internet.

Posted in Programming and Internet on March 5, 2009 by chaosincarnate

It’s actually really hard to think about what my life would be like without the Internet. Having a month with limited internet made me think about that a lot. And about what the future would look like.

It’s no big revelation to say that we’re an incredibly connected society now. But for me, this is absolutely nothing new. My mom was one of the first webmasters, way back when. I learned HTML before I learned how to multiply.

Hell, I was probably even one of the first kids my age to use e-mail for everything. (My Xbox LIVE Gamertag is off by a few years of my actual age, because I got it when I needed to tweak my age.) And I had other emails before that even.

But there’s more to it than that. Considering how often we moved, and how far away, I don’t really have a home state. I don’t really get attached to places. I’ve taken to defining “Home” as “Wherever I live now.” And you know, I really don’t mind. I love that I moved so much. How many people can say they’ve lived a block from a beach in sunny Florida, and lived in the Mountains. (Rockies FTW).

There was always one thing constant though. The Internet. No matter where we were, I had access to the internet. Not always the greatest, but there nonetheless. I could keep in contact with friends I had to move away from, keep a consistent community of friends around me, all well before the Web 2.0 entered our lives.

Hell, I even owe the love of my life to the Internet. I met her in a crappy chat room I went into because I was bored, and shooting lonely, angsty, bitchy fish in a barrel. Three years later, we’re living happily ever after.

I owe finding people with similar interests, that I never would have found locally. I owe that I wasn’t alone my entire childhood to the internet.

All things considered, I didn’t grow up in Florida, or Nebraska, or Colorado. I grew up on the Internet. And I’m here to help.

The Battle of the Browsers

Posted in Programming and Internet with tags , on March 5, 2009 by chaosincarnate

As soon as Chrome came out, I switched to it, and used it for quite awhile. I still really like it. But I’ve switched back to Firefox recently. Part of it has to do with my primary computer being my laptop. My girlfriend used it most of the time before, so it didn’t have Chrome. Now that it’s got Kubuntu, I don’t have the option. (It also helps that my only internet was tethering my G1 for awhile, and that needs FoxyProxy.) But now that I don’t have it, I find that I really don’t miss it.

One of the things I loved about chrome is that it was lightning fast. Quick to load, quick to load pages, and the default tab was all kinds of awesome. The architecture of it was also awesome. (Each tab has it’s own process, so if something goes down, it doesn’t crash the browser.)

But, I find that I missed the extensions. Quite a bit, actually. Like, I’m writing this from ScribeFire. I’ve also got a weather monitor, and RSS reader, and a twitter client.

Outside of Twitter, this is all stuff I’ve got on my desktop via SuperKaramba. (Think Yahoo Widgets for Linux. Pretty shiny, actually.) But, I find there’s a lot of stuff I just really like having in my browser.

Like Twitter. It’s really nice to have that always-on in my browser. Same deal with the weather. Feedly (RSS Reader) is all kinds of awesome. It’s got a magazine look-and-feel, with all of the instant awesome of the internet.

And I really like having a standalone blog writer. Especially considering I can just open it in a new window, and edit it whenever, even if I’m not online.

This, however, isn’t to say there’s a lot of really neat stuff I’d like to see in Firefox from Chrome.

The main one, and probably one that won’t happen, is the architecture. Have every tab and most extensions run in their own process, so that when I crash a tab with a bad Java applet, I won’t tear down the browser.

The second is the speed. Which I have heard is a major improvement in 3.5, but I still want to see it. Truth be told, I think this is related to the first one.

Third, is I really love the new tab page from Chrome. My 9 favorite web sites, recently closed tabs, and history. Much better than a homepage for me. (Any, well, chrome I’d have on it, I have in my browser normally.)

Fourth is the “one bar” system. It’s easily my favorite feature in chrome, and I still accidentally try to use it in Firefox.

Of course, the big thing with this, is Firefox has full extension support, and chrome does not. Reading above, I’d likely switch back in a heartbeat if Chrome had good extensions for everything I use.

Of course, assuming that Firefox didn’t come out with something else awesome. Which, considering it’s history, is a really bad bet.

It’s going to take quite a bit for Chrome to win me back. It’s likely possible, but it’ll take some doing.