New Tech

So I’ve been busy the last few days, doing a variety of work-type things, but also trying to occasionally explore fun new tech, or changing my old tech, as the case may be.

For instance, while creating my last post, I did what I often do, composing in a plain-text editor and then pasting into Movable Type; the only difference was that this time, MT completely freaked out at me, and refused therefore to let me use its nice little “make link,” “make bullet point,” etc. buttons. I’m not sure whether it was because Firefox was freaking out, having eaten most of the memory on my system, or whether MT was angry at how long my post was (nearly five printed pages, single-spaced; not long for a paper, but huge for a blog post), or precisely what happened, but after twenty minutes of futzing with it, I realized I didn’t have the time to cajole it into working, and spend a solid hour making all the links linked and the bullets bulleted, whipping out my manual (X)HTML skills of yore. Which, while I don’t mind doing it, was quite a bit slower than making MT do it for me.

Afterward, I thought to myself. “Self,” I thought, “isn’t there supposed to be some good way to do lightweight markup in text for exactly this reason?” “Yes,” I thought, “there is, but I don’t know it.” Well, it’s time, then, to learn another new language, and noting that Movable Type supports not one, but two such languages for that very purpose (Textile and Markdown), I set about the documentation for each, and eventually settled on the latter. This post was therefore written in Markdown, and I have to say, it’s nice; it’s not a revolutionary change or anything, but I’m happy with it. (Textile seemed a bit too lightweight, frankly; more “silly snippets of bloggery” than anything I’d write anything in, and now that I can submit whole papers as blog posts, who knows what I’ll need from it next?)

Another wonderful experience, with the same post; as I was preparing to upload the text I’d written and format it with MT, I went to log in to Movable Type, as usual, on my OLPC in class. As I did so, I encountered the following error:

Access to this site has been denied.

“Uh, why?”

Access to the category “Sex” is disallowed by your site policy.


That’s right, folks. You know, I’ve been accused of many things, but “running a porn site” hasn’t been one of them previously. Obviously, this is yet another abusive content filter, running amok– but it’s fairly awful, sitting at one of the world’s great universities. This, then, provoked an angry letter to IT@JH– who (naturally) still haven’t had the guts to respond. Congratulations, guys, you’ve made life better at Hopkins again. (These are the same people who block SSH access to Hopkins computers on the wireless network; understand that anyone on the Internet can SSH to these computers, except people on the wireless network on our very own campus. Gotta love it.) In any case, this did make for an amusing story to tell my Digital Preservation class later that day.

In other news, I’ve been looking into ways to do GTD without carrying around both my HipsterPDA and my iPhone all the time, and while I was initially suspicious of it, Remember the Milk has really won me over. It provides all the functionality I need from the tasks portion of my HipsterPDA, and it has a great iPhone interface to replace printing cards from my GTDTiddlyWiki. Part of the total solution, as well, is to move my agenda back out of the wiki and into a calendar– this time (as I’m now on Mac, and have the nice iPhone integration), iCal. All of it flows together nicely, and now I have fewer things to take with me out the door. The only thing remaining: put my nicely shrunk-down PDFs that I carry with me in there (a Penalty Guide reference card for Magic, schedules for MARC and the JHMI Shuttle, etc.) somewhere the iPhone can get to them quickly and directly.

Graduation is only 16 days away; my parents show up in 9 days, which should be a good time; I’m moving again, so they get to help with that, but otherwise much partying is in order. Then up to Yale to hear Quinlan play, then to New York City for a bit, then back to Baltimore for a few days before they leave, then I leave just after them for San Francisco! My housing for the next twelve months is taken care of (ugg, signing two leases (and putting down two deposits) at once is no fun, but it’s all handled from now, through my internship, and my last year at Hopkins), Valleywag just published some great photos of the Six Apart offices, and the whole thing seems quite exciting!

In the meantime, though, I need to go write a paper, do a project, study for three finals, and figure out how to pack my apartment up yet again.

Number of outstanding tasks: 11