Everyone should program

Here’s a quote I enjoyed from the book I’m currently reading:

“If you’ve never programmed a computer, you should. There’s nothing like it in the whole world. When you program a computer, it does exactly what you tell it to do. It’s like designing a machine — any machine, like a car, like a faucet, like a gas-hinge for a door — using math and instructions. It’s awesome in the truest sense: it can fill you with awe.

A computer is the most complicated machine you’ll ever use. It’s made of billions of micro-miniaturized transistors that can be configured to run any program you can imagine. But when you sit down at the keyboard and write a line of code, those transistors do what you tell them to.

Most of us will never build a car. Pretty much none of us will ever create an aviation system. Design a building. Lay out a city.

Those are complicated machines, those things, and they’re off-limits to the likes of you and me. But a computer is like, ten times more complicated, and it will dance to any tune you play. You can learn to write simple code in an afternoon. Start with a language like Python, which was written to give non-programmers an easier way to make the machine dance to their tune. Even if you only write code for one day, one afternoon, you have to do it. Computers can control you or they can lighten your work — if you want to be in charge of your machines, you have to learn to write code.”

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Smoke and Mirrors

Apparently Lenovo has put a lot of work in making Windows 7 boot “unbelievably fast.” When you go on to read the article, you see that you’ll get a boot time possibly as “quickly” as 30 seconds, which is a significant improvement for Windows. Of course to explain how they get that, you get a bunch of vague double-speak. They push back loading drivers and various Windows services until after booting “finishes.” They also make some claims about preventing “Windows rot” by doing some work with drivers. Not quite sure what they’re doing there. Sounds like they need to take some tips from the pros: 10 seconds on a mid-level machine to a logged in idle computer without delaying any background services. Your computer is ready to use in 10 seconds. That’s the goal for Ubuntu 10.04, due out in April 2010. Ubuntu 9.10, due out in a few weeks, already has Lenovo’s Windows 7 numbers beat, so 10.04 will just be some sweet icing on the cake. And then of course, there’s reason to believe boot speed will actually be closer to 5 seconds when it’s all said and done… Maybe some day Windows will catch Ubuntu.

Panda’s Back!!

I was just doing some reading yesterday and saw that PandaBear, MD’s blog is now being archived over at SDN. I’ve stayed subscribed to his original site’s feed since he retired just in case he ever popped back in to say anything. As I wandered over to the SDN archive expecting to find a 1:1 copy of his original site, I saw that he actually started writing again on this new site back in March! This just made my day. I’ve got some serious catching up to do! If you’ve never read Panda’s blog, you can start with some things that I thought were notable. Enjoy!

Now with web fonts!

This site now utilizes the @font-face attribute included in the new Firefox 3.5. These fonts should be visible in Firefox 3.5, Safari 3.1, and Opera 10. They may be visible in IE (I’m not sure). Thanks to exljbris and RedHat for some cool fonts. Let me know if you think I went overboard or if something isn’t looking right on your screen now. I’m not done tweaking yet, but this is a good start.

Firefox 3.5 font-face

I could try to explain why the @font-face CSS feature in the new Firefox 3.5 is so awesome for web developers (and viewers), but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words: Firefox 3.0 (and other web browsers) vs Firefox 3.5. You no longer need a particular font installed on your computer in order to view it on a web page. Expect some changes around here in the coming weeks to reflect that!

Death by 100 Papercuts

The newly formed, Canonical-sponsored, User-Experience Team is already hard at work on their major campaign to improve the default Ubuntu experience with the Ayatana project. One of their big goals for Ubuntu 9.10 is dubbed “One Hundred Papercuts.” Canonical seems to be taking the constant criticism of the default Ubuntu experience to heart, and they’re doing their best to fix all the little quirks that should “just work” but don’t (for any number of reasons). They’ve hired a killer team of developers including David Siegel, creator of the fantastic Swiss-Army knife that is Gnome Do, and Mirco Muller, a graphics guru. The future of Ubuntu is looking pretty bright to me!

Necessary follow-up on the “Missing Link”

Ars Technica did a fantastic follow-up on the discovery of the “missing link”, which I posted about last week. As Ars points out, it’s looking like Ida was way more hype than anything, which could end up being extremely detrimental to science. Despite being a very well-preserved and valuable fossil, she does not appear to be a “missing link” in any way. If you were interested in the Ida news, this article is a must read. Score -1 for science and the media. :-/