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October 9, 2007

Why are you looking at us?

This is stepping on Sasha's turf, but the "it's not our job to wade into difficult legal questions or conflicts between the branches of government because doing our jobs might be construed to be judicial activism and we'd rather take a nap" Roberts Court has (not) struck again.

Update: See also the NY Times editorial board's take on this.

September 26, 2007

Verizon really is evil

About a year ago I declared that Verizon was evil in a snarky little post that had much more to do with the company's complete failure at providing us with service in a timely manner than than any grand struggle of values. But now, yup, turns out Verizon is most definitely evil in that sense, too.

Update: They caved quickly. By the way, this was never an abortion rights issue. It's a free speech issue, in that it needs to be made completely clear that Verizon is every bit as much of a common carrier when distributing text messages as when it is distributing voice calls and should have no right censor what kind of speech occurs on their network. There may be a legal loophole for text messages, but even if there is, that's just plain silly. We really need to set policy that being a common carrier means you are common carrier for any kind of data, not set policy piece by piece as new technology emerges.

April 6, 2007

This explains my childhood

xkcd from 4/6/2007

March 4, 2007

Movable Type vs Wordpress From a Design Point of View

I've been meaning to collect my impressions of the different blogging systems I've tried for a while now, but I've never seemed to get around to it. But today via Daring Fireball I noticed a little post from Joe Trotter that neatly sums up my conclusions and the reason why I've stuck with Movable Type. So now's as good a time as any to quickly throw in my two cents.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that "I hate Wordpress," and Gruber's response is correct, we shouldn't confuse templates with blogging systems. You could undoubtedly make just about any site in just about any of the top blogging systems currently in use. But just because you can do something doesn't mean that your experience doing it will be pleasant. The key observation is in Trotter's final paragraph:

I think the problem is that Wordpress themes (and to a greater extent the entire system) are so designed that modifications stick out like a sore thumb - the themes never strike a good balance between flexibility and aesthetics. I’m thinking more and more to switch to Movable Type. The cachet of Wordpress just doesn’t appeal to me anymore.

Of course if you are a skilled Wordpress template designer you can make beautiful completely original or tastefully modified templates, but it isn't what Wordpress is good at. What's made Wordpress so popular -- and what has, in part, made Movable Type less popular in contrast -- is that Wordpress makes it very easy to do single click design changes. Whether or not this was inevitable, that (among other things) has made it conversely more complicated to implement templates yourself and encourages (though it doesn't demand) even original templates to conform to a certain "Wordpress way of thinking."

In order to make a new Wordpress template you have to know way more about how Wordpress itself works than you have to know about Movable Type. If you want to do anything beyond the standard you will quickly find yourself thinking about the mechanics of the database queries going on in the background, and if I wanted to think about that, I'd write my blogging software myself. In contrast, Making a Movable Type template is, simply, making a website. Not much different from designing a static page.

Therefore, I'd heartily recommend Wordpress over Movable Type to anyone who just wants to choose an existing template, maybe change a couple of colors and pictures, and get blogging. But anyone interested in the ease of customizing the design would be better served by Movable Type. People talk about how they love Wordpress in contrast to Movable Type because they always feel like they're fighting with Movable Type. But while the vanilla install was easy, designing my own templates in Wordpress felt like as big or bigger of a battle.

I think that explains a lot. Wordpress may have a somewhat slicker application, but if the design is what you care about, Moveable Type is an easier, more elegant, sandbox to play in. I'm sure that has something to do with why people who are primarily interested in design often choose Movable Type (or Textpattern or ExpressionEngine), even as the rest of the world is moving over to the plug and play "good enough out of the box" simplicity of Wordpress.

PS And yes, I know that my own blog looks fairly "Movable Typeish" as it has evolved from the standard templates.

November 6, 2006

Midterm Elections

From xkcd today comes this tidbit of truth and wisdom:

xkcd: Canada

Yeah, that kind of sums it up. Now I don't need to write a "pre elections angst" post.

October 29, 2006

Tip from Daring Fireball: Auto-Completion

I've been using macs for so long that it always comes as a bit of a surprise when I find out that there's a really useful feature that I never had any idea existed. John Grubber at Daring Fireball points out that MacOS X has an auto-completion feature based on the built in spell checker1. You start typing a word in any cocoa text field and hit f5 and a popup menu appears with possible completions for the word. Grubber says that you are supposed to be about to use the escape key unless you are in a context where escape means cancel, but I haven't been able to get it to work anywhere, which is too bad since I'm using a MacBook Pro and to access the f5 key I need to hold down the "fn" to switch the increase volume key into its alternate role as a function key. Maybe it's configurable in system preferences. If I have to use two keys, I'd rather it be an easier key combo...

1 By the way can I say how much I love that there's a built in spell checker. It's the #1 reason I wish all applications would move over to being cocoa, so I can have one standard way of checking spelling in every single text box.

October 20, 2006

Copyright fair use intrusions: Not just for the digital realm apparently

Yikes: Misadventures in Copyright.

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