I was installing MacTeX on my MacBook Pro today and had an amusing realization. First, some background: for those of you who don't know, TeX is a phenomenal family of typesetting programs originally written in 1978 by two of the giants of 20th Century computer science, Don Knuth and Guy Steele. Most people now use it in conjunction with a slightly more modern set of extensions called LaTeX released in 1981 or so. I used TeX/LaTeX to typeset several thousand pages of homework and other assignments in college.
Now, in early 2014, the download for the OS X distribution …read more
I use Alfred 2 a lot on OS X in order to get things done. It doesn't completely change how I use the operating system, but it comes close. However, one of my pet peeves about it has always been that the built-in calculator is pretty terrible (even with the "advanced" equals-sign calculator). I realized this morning that I could fix this, and, lo, the dc alfred workflow was born.
It just takes its input and runs it through the
dc command-line utility, giving you a fully-programmable
RPN calculator. It's not quite as great as PCalc, but it's just a …
Shortly after I upgraded to OS X 10.9.2, I was connecting to battle.net, and I got an SSL error. At the time, I didn't think anything of it (after all, sites have bad SSL certificates all the time). However, I noticed it again today when looking at the page for Reaper of Souls, and decided to look into it again. When I did, I found something very unusual: my system has a second copy of the DigiCert root CA certificate in the "login" keychain. For those of you who aren't familiar, OS X uses a hierarchy of …read more
I've had an article sitting in Draft status since June 2013 about the Pebble smartwatch which I bought during their Kickstarter campaign. The article essentially said that the Pebble has awesome features, but feels like a toy and scuffs if you look at it askance. I was planning on going into detail about how apps like httpebble and smartwatch+ feel immensely hackish.
Well, as of today, I'm confident reporting that Pebble has resolved all of these issues with the Pebble Steel and Pebble OS 2.0.
I'm going to talk (briefly!) about both of these new releases. All of the …read more
It's been a while since I posted, and I've been spending a lot of time fighting with Redis, one of the darling databases of the NoSQL era, at work, so I thought I'd grace y'all with a brief rant on Redis, what it's good at, what it's bad at, and so on.
Redis is an open-source moderately-structured in-memory key-value store. This means that, unlike full relational databases, it doesn't have a fixed schema, and it can't perform server-side operations like joining and filtering data1, and theoretically it's faster. Redis looks an awful lot like memcache, but …read more
In light of all of the hullabaloo about PRISM and other spying technology, I thought it'd be good to remind all of your dear readers that we've had the technology to ensure private communications on the Internet for 22 years in the form of Pretty Good Privacy (and the much-more-commonly-used implementation, GnuPG). Ars Technica had an okay article about e-mail encryption with PGP which I recommend reading, although you should keep in mind that most security professionals would consider infrastructural PKI like SSL and S/MIME to be compromised by nation-state-level adversaries (and all associated MIC contractors).
Anyhow, my GPG …read more