“Hello Butt” in Python   Leave a comment

My wife is not a programmer. She is also not a techie, nor is she at all interested in such things. She likes her computer to let her surf facebook, play Bejeweled and make pretty pictures in PhotoShop, but that’s about it.

And of course, thanks to her disinterest, I have a strong fascination with tricking her into doing technical stuff. Like tonight when, in a sleep haze, I told her I had something I needed her to help me with.

Her: “What do you need me to do?”

Me: “Open up terminal.”

Her: “What’s a terminal?”

Me: “It’s an application in your Utilities folder… ya the black one.”

Her: “Now what?”

Me: “Do you have a folder you just throw lots of junk files in?”

Her: “You mean like my temp folder?”

Me: *grinning with pride*
Me: “Yes, exactly. Change your directory to it.”

Her: “Wha… how… how do I do that?”

“Me: Type cd and the directory… wait cd **space** and the director… wait no it’s case-sensitive… ok good.”

Her: “Now what?”

“Me: Type vi space susan.py.”

Her: “What the fuck is this thing?”

Me: “A text editor. Hit i. Ok now you can type… no not yet. Type what I tell you.”

Her: “Ok, what do I type?”

Me: “Type myvar.. all one word… space equals sign space… and then ummm..”

Her: “What else do I type?”

Me: “I don’t know, whatever you want, but put quote marks around it.”

Her: *click click click click*

Me: “I guess that works…”

Me: “Okay, now hit enter and type while parenthesis uppercase-T, then the rest in lower case, true, then end paren and a colon…. Nice!”

Me: “Now enter, hit space 4 times… now type print parenthesis myvar close paren enter”

Her: “Now what?”

Me: “Hit escape, and type upper-case ZZ… no, both z’s are upper-case”.

Me: “Alright, now type python space sus… you can hit tab to complete the word. nice. ok now hit enter”


The end.


Posted December 24, 2010 by Rob Ciaccio in Python

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Shifting from a Windows to Unix-Centric Coding Mentality   Leave a comment

I found the following post by Phil on Apple.StackExchange intriguing. Phil is struggling with moving his development environment from Windows to OS X:

I’m having trouble finding a coding environment that is comfortable and I’m hoping anyone has had the same problem. On my windows box at the office I’ve found my ideal coding environment that I really dig. VS2010 or Eclipse, Notepad++, WinScp, Fireftp is often everything I need.

On my macbook pro however, I’ve not yet found that environment that just says “click”.

It struck a chord with me in that I went through a very similar experience when I first started working on my Mac. Here’s an excerpt from my answer, you can read the full text by clicking through:

I was in a huge programming rut before I started using my mac, but I’m finding that being forced to look at my process and tools in a different way is really bringing out talents and interests I didn’t know I had before. I’m coding in python and c++ rather than javascript and c#, in one of the oldest editors in existence, and I’m loving it.

Multi-Platform vimrc Using Dropbox   2 comments

I’ve been using vim in place of notepad++ and fraise with greater frequency lately. It’s quite a hassle to maintain vim settings on two different platforms in a consistent enough way that the settings are identical. Yesterday I decided to fix that.

I run a local subversion server at home for versioning my free-time projects and other documents. I store my working copies of the repository in a folder inside my Dropbox. What I decided to do was run a WinMerge diff/merge with my OS X .vimrc and my Windows _vimrc files. Everything that was common to both files, I merged right, then saved to a new text file called ‘vimrc_common’. So afterwards, I was left with 3 relatively similar files, .vimrc, _vimrc, and vimrc_common.

After checking in the changes, it was a simple task to remove the script that was now in common from the two original files, leaving only the platform specific stuff. I added a line to each of the original files that sources the common file at its path on the respective OS, and voila, no more vimrc duplication!


Posted December 9, 2010 by Rob Ciaccio in Software, Vim

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I hope the badger consented to the licensing terms   Leave a comment

Not that he wouldn’t.  I have a suspicion that badgers prefer their software ‘free as in speech’… but they’d probably take a free beer if it was offered:








Installing Linux on a Dead Badger: User’s Notes

Posted July 8, 2010 by Rob Ciaccio in Uncategorized

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Switching between OS X and Windows, and drooling over VistaSwitcher   Leave a comment

With all the time I’ve been spending lately working on my Hackintosh, I’ve started getting disoriented in both the OS X and Windows environments.  Being confused on the Mac is not exactly new for me, but losing my cool in Windows is a little disquieting.

I’ve been using Windows both personally and professionally for so long that I suppose I could be described as a power-user.  I routinely use keyboard shortcuts and there’s a lot of habit built into my work-flow.  Somehow using OS X has managed to really mess with my mind.  When I first started playing around with Snow Leopard, I didn’t even notice what was going on when I hit command-tab.  It probably took me a week to realize that command-tab was actually changing focus between open applications, not simply scrolling through all open windows in a most-recently-used (MRU) order.

Fast-forward two months, and my expectations have been modified.  Now, instead of being disoriented by the app switcher in OS X, when I’m using Windows, I expect alt-tab to have the same behavior as command-tab.

These kinds of little mind-fraks can really slow down your workflow and increase your frustration level.  I’ve spent some time looking for a Windows task-switcher that emulates the OS X behavior, but so far have come up empty handed.  The closest I’ve been able to come is NTWind Software’s excellent VistaSwitcher.


VistaSwitcher allows you to navigate open windows using alt-tab in the normal Windows fashion.  Where it gets cool is the with added functionality that it brings to task switching.  Consider Windows 7’s alt-tab with Aero Peek:

Windows 7 alt-tab with Aero Peek

It looks really pretty, certainly more aesthetically pleasing than its counterpart in Windows XP:

Windows XP alt-tab

Once you get past the initial “gee that’s pretty” moment however, you start to realize that things aren’t all that much different.  The only real change is the addition of thumbnail previews and the way it hides other windows as you tab through the window list.  That’s it.  No additional shortcuts for selecting multiple windows, closing or quitting programs, no filters to keep unwanted windows out of the tab cycle… really it’s just the same old functionality with some pretty graphics layered on top.  I’d even venture to say that it’s less user-friendly because of the limited thumbnail preview size.  With XP’s alt-tab, the window is represented by the program’s icon.  The only visual ambiguity is whether or not the window you have selected is the one you actually want in the case that the program currently has multiple open windows.

In Windows 7, the visual representation of the window is far more difficult to discern, thanks to the tiny thumbnail preview that is supposed to tell you what you currently have selected.  The problem with these thumbnails is that they are small, blurry, and not easily distinguished from one another without careful inspection or largely different window coloring.  You end up having to look at the aero peeked version of the actual window behind the alt-tab bar to tell where you’ll end up.  It sounds like no big deal on paper, but in practice it can really slow things down.

Now consider VistaSwitcher’s interface, as configured with default settings:

There are a few important things to note here.  The windows are in a list on the right, and all of them are identified by their application icons, just like in XP.  There is a large amount of text denoting the window title directly to the right of the icons.  And the most important part… you can actually tell what program is running in the preview of the window you have selected.  No ambiguity whatsoever.

I also like the fact that there is only one window preview displayed at any given time.  Showing thumbnails of all your open windows is just plain distracting and unnecessary.

VistaSwitcher also has some awesome added features that I won’t get into in this post.  Suffice it to say that there is a lot more you can do with this app than simple window switching.

Posted June 2, 2010 by Rob Ciaccio in Software, Windows

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Hackintosh!!!   Leave a comment

A couple months ago I was introduced to my mother’s new MacBook Pro. I was so impressed with the interface and the aesthetic appeal of the OS that I decided I HAD to have a Mac. I started looking around for used MacBook Pros on craigslist, and lucked out with an old Intel Core Duo 2.0GHz w/2GB RAM and a 320GB HD for 500 bucks.

Since that computer has basically been taken over by my wife for her photoshopping and blogging hobby, I was forced to look at some other options to get my OS X fix. I started investigating what it would take to get a hackintosh setup running on the desktop I’ve been rebuilding. Apparently I didn’t really comprehend the magnitude of the task I was about to undertake… nor did I realize how much fun it would be to hack into a system I have almost zero knowledge about.

This is my first post in a series where I will attempt to share some of the knowledge I have gained while working on this project.  If nothing else, these posts can serve to document my successes and failures (mostly failures) so that I can reproduce the stuff that worked later on.  Hopefully someone else can glean some useful information from these posts and save themselves from serious frustration.

Posted May 15, 2010 by Rob Ciaccio in Hackintosh

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