Archive for the ‘about hacking’ Category

a six-foot length of fence in a large field only corrals stupid animals….

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Today’s post is a short public-service announcement.

If you read the NYTimes website, and you’re annoyed (as I was) that you only get to see 10 articles per month before they ‘ ‘encourage’ ‘ you to sign up for an on-line subscription, here’s how you can get around the paywall.

Click on a link to an article, and after it fully loads (and that shadowy pop-over comes up saying “WAIT, THIS IS JUST GETTING INTERESTING“), look carefully at the URL.  It should end with something like gwh=653CAAB8F5824BB48DE43D79BE479E95 (the last 32 characters will vary, but they will all be from the set of A-Z and 0-9). Delete all this (and the preceding &, if any), and refresh the page.

Enjoy your toll-free reading. That is all.

Teaching myself Python in N easy lessons…. – Part 1

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Eric Raymond put out a call to all developers a while back, to work with him on what could become the next generation of ‘software forge’ – that combination of code repository, mailing list and/or wiki, and bug-tracking system that is the locus of a distributed, open-source, software development project.  I said to myself, “Well, here may well be one of the last opportunities I have to prove my chops as a hacker.  I better get on board with this.”

So I signed up for the mailing list for the project.  And further said, “Now I guess I gotta learn Python.”  Now almost 25 years ago I had taught myself Perl, and it wasn’t too tough a deal. So I figured that this wouldn’t be any worse, although I’m a quarter century older and cruftier, and I didn’t have a ‘work project’ as my driver.  And this is how things sat for almost five months.

But something this week kicked me in the metaphorical seat of the pants.  On my way home from work one evening, I stopped by our local big-box book store and dropped almost a benjamin and a half on some books.

I finally got serious the afternoon of Thursday the 5th by reading “Learning Python” by Mark Lutz (the O’Reilly rat book), starting at page one.  (Cue the Von Trapp family – “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start….”)  I opened a shell window and typed “python” to play along with the examples in the text.  By page 91, less than two hours later, I was seriously impressed.  D@mn!  Built-in comprehensive documentation with dir() and help(); standard libraries for OS interface (abstracting the common abilities for Windows, Macintosh, and *nix); lists of mixed types, with methods like .remove (by matching value), .sort, and .map already ginned up for me; list comprehension – but wait, there’s more!

This is going to be fun.  Inner programming geek goes “RAWR!” on savoring the fat-free, meaty texture of the language.  Why didn’t I do this years ago??

(You may now insert your obligatory diss of obsolete programmers, citing old dogs and new tricks  ;-}  )

“Geeks With Guns” at Penguicon 2012

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Put Up

or STFU.

(We will leave it as an exercise for the interested reader to permute the “TF” into or out of each of the clauses of this slogan.)

So Eric Raymond over on his blog was talking about hosting a party at this year’s Penguicon for his readers, and passing out “hacker” ribbons, and …. One of the replies mentioned in passing that there wasn’t going to be a “Geeks With Guns” event this year (as there failed to be one last year also). Ratz! That was something I had been looking forward to, and it seems that the impediment was the absence of an event coordinator.

Now, I could join the chorus of bitching. Or. I. Could. Do. Something. About. It. Penguicon is held in the next major city over (maybe 75 minutes drive time from my apartment), and, hell, I know a factoid or two about organizing events. Hence the opening statement above. I sent an email off to the con’s organizers, and offered to set up and run this year’s “Geeks With Guns”.

We’ll see if they take me up on the offer. And we’ll discuss the details in the comments of this post. If you are planning on attending, please let me know. I’m tentatively planning on earlyish Friday afternoon – 90 to 120 min. of loud noises, back in plenty of time for the FoA&D party. (Yes, I do ask that you register to comment on my blog. Just give me the handle or name you use on “Armed and Dangerous”, and a plausible email address, and I’ll hook you up.)

Cue the Beatles: “Happiness is a Warm Gun (Bang, bang! Shoot, shoot!)”