16 May 2005

GPGMail and Mac OS X 10.4.1

A software update for Mac OS X 10.4 just arrived bringing us to 10.4.1. Among the various things this update does is breaking all “bundles” for OS X’s Mail.app. There is a version of GPGMail.mailbundle that works fine with 10.4. That is until the first time you start up mail after the upgrade and it breaks it.

defaults write com.apple.mail EnableBundles YES
mv Library/Mail/Bundles (Disabled) Library/Mail/Bundles

Note: Do not change the BundleCompatibilityVersion as is typically done with a new install of GPGMail. Setting that value to “1” triggers the irritating behavior that many have noticed where Mail.app moves Bundles to Bundles (Diabled) and sets EnableBundles to NO and sets BundleCompatibilityVersion back to “2”.

Then you’ll be back in business. It sure would be nice if Apple would let people make a better integrated PGP experience without hacking around with silliness like this.

Reading List

A trip to a transnational bookseller yielded a variety of books for us today. I’ve been working through Collapse after having finished Guns, Germs and Steel. They both aren’t exactly light-reading, and at least so far have left me somewhat depressed for the future of humanity. But then so does watching the news segment of The Daily Show most days.

  • A Brief History of Time
    Somehow we didn’t have a copy of this on the shelf anymore. This is the layman’s guide to 20th century astrophysics. Apparently Eileen’s knowledge of physics is underappreciated by her coworkers and this book may help alleviate some of that.

  • The Universe in a Nutshell
    A plain-spoken review of the big questions (circa 2001) about how the universe is put together. I think it may be worth looking for an equally plain-spoken guide to what’s changed in physics since the publication of the book somewhere on the internet.

  • Marooned in Realtime
    The sequel to ”The Peace War” which I read and enjoyed in the last several months.

  • Cryptonomicon
    The premise seems interesting and apparently I’m going to finally get around to reading this. This author (and this book in particular) is widely read among computer-oriented folks, so I should probably read it too. Baaa!

  • The Statistical Analysis of Experimental Data
    This book has seemed to have a good review of statistical math with some example applications. My day-to-day work is starting to demand that I remember things that I haven’t used since the two weeks of the college course that covered it. The goal here is to help jog those 8 year old memories.

  • Death March
    I saw this while browsing and it seemed applicable to every technology job I’ve held at one point or another and every software development group on one project or another. Having some understanding about how a locomotive works will instruct you on how best to keep from getting crushed by one, and if you’re smart (and lucky) how to make it a little bit better.

Polarization Politics in BSDs

In a scene all to reminiscent of what passes for “rational” political discourse in governance today, Poul-Henning Kamp, ex-core of FreeBSD (1992-2000), and Theo deRaadt, founder of OpenBSD, are involved in a scuffle about Reyk Floeter’s presentation at a recent BSD-related conference. Apparently things got underway when Poul asked some pointed questions at the conference and then posted a review of the day’s events to the (private) FreeBSD developers mailing list. The review of Reyk’s OpenBSD Wireless presentation included Poul making a comparison to Red Army Faction, a terrorist group that killed at least nine and injured dozens more in the 1970s and later.

Now Poul-Henning Kamp does have some valid criticism and concerns about how well the OpenBSD Atheros HAL will hold up as being legally reverse engineered. The original BSD project had a whole barrel of intellectual property law fun with a small upstart named AT&T that took several years to settle. Being that as it may, it is very hard to take Poul seriously when he compares possible violations of intellectual property rules for interoperability to murderous terrorism. Of course Theo is never one to leave an itch of potential conflict unscratched and promptly fired a tirade right back and isn’t exactly being receptive to attempts to defuse the situation.

And now we have a public brouhaha over what most likely started out as a off-the-cuff answer as part of a developer’s presentation. It stands to reason that comparison to a terrorist group is just one short step short of falling victim to Godwin’s Rule. For my own purposes, it’s close enough. I think Theo should just stop talking, because he’s already won the debate.

10 May 2005

Helpful SUV Driving Tips

We are always looking to contribute to the greater good. We also happen to commute into Seattle on I-90 everyday, and as it turns out there are a lot of people with large trucks and SUVs that commute into Seattle from the Eastside every day. All the large vehicle traffic makes me hopeful for the construction, pediatric medicine and farming industries, but I digress.

To help give back to society, here are some important safety tips for completing your commute on the freeway without injuring yourself and others in your large SUV or truck:

  • The stripes on the road are not art
    While it might be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the dashed white lines on the freeway are a form of abstract art, they are there for a reason. They, in fact, indicate the general direction you should be going. But wait, there’s more! As an added feature the space between the dashed lines is moderately larger than most vehicles, even your F-150, Suburban and Escalade. If we all stay between the lines we can fit more cars on the road and all get where we’re going faster and more safely. The spaces between the dashed lines are called “lanes”.

On many sections of freeway there are even helpful bumps on these stripes so you can feel when you are drifting into a lane other than your own. (More on changing lanes properly in the next bullet point.) When you feel these bumps you should direct your large truck or SUV back into your own lane; that way other people don’t have to swerve to avoid you. I realize that these sets of bumps can help you track each dollar of gasoline or diesel you burn on your way to wherever you’re going, but please use your gas gauge for this instead, for the children’s sake.

  • That stick hanging out the left side of your steering column is useful
    As it turns out, that stick that is protruding from your steering column isn’t a practical joke on behalf of some GM autoworker in Mexico that constructed your “I only buy American” vehicle. When you move this stick up or down it will cause lights on the right or left side, respectively, of your vehicle to blink, alerting everyone else on the road that you intend to change from one “lane” into another. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier and safer to participate in freeway driving if we don’t all have to second guess where each other are going next.

While it is true that the likelihood of the State Patrol bothering to write a ticket for failing to signal while changing lanes is zero unless you manage to hit someone else doing it, it is still illegal and impolite. You wouldn’t want undue scratching and damage to the fancy paint your offroading truck/SUV when you hit someone who was unable to read your mind and tell you were going to drift over into their lane without signalling. So it’s for the safety of your SUV/truck and your children who want the vehicle not to be scratched as well. Think of the children!

  • Keep right except to pass
    There are signs on this particular stretch of freeway that remind us all that the laws of Washington state say that if you’re not passing someone you need to keep in the rightmost lane. It happens that if everyone followed this simple rule, we all wouldn’t have to change lanes quite as much to make our way to our destination. All that lane changing and vehicles going different speeds in the same lane leads to accidents. And even in an SUV your 8 children that are along for the ride might get injured in an accident. Think of the children!

Now again, I’m fairly certain no one is actually ever ticketed for this bad behavior, despite the fact that it results in a large number of speed differential-related accidents. This doesn’t mean it isn’t illegal, impolite and dangerous to your children, you know, the ones you’re supposed to be thinking of all the time when those bad, evil terrorists are making our threat condition burnt sienna.

  • Summary

Maybe some day in the enlightened future the various law enforcement agencies out there will actually bother to enforce traffic laws in addition to those related to speeding and the number of passengers in vehicles in the carpool lane. That way they could help encourage polite and safe driving behavior and reduce the number of accidents. Until that day comes, please follow these tips and stay safe, do it for the children!

09 May 2005

XEmacs 21.5.20-b2 for OS X

I’ve made a build of XEmacs 21.5.20 with the Carbon patches from Andrew Choi. You can download my build of the XEmacs.app right now. However, using it is up to you. I just thought I’d save some folks the trouble of doing the build until Andrew has one ready.

This is compiled on Mac OS X 10.4.0 and XTools 2, and may or may not work on earlier or later versions. You’ll probably have better luck if you unpack xemacs-sumo-date.tar.bz2 into ~/.xemacs or XEmacs.app/Contents/Resources/lib/ since a lot of the basic functionality depends on these packages.

For the paranoid in the crowd, there is a PGP/GPG signature file for the tarball above. If you have any reason to trust my PGP signature you’ll find that useful.

08 May 2005

Pool Disassembly

We’re part way through the long task of disassembling the above-ground pool and surrounding deck in our backyard. While it proved fun the few times we got a chance to use it, the cost of the chemicals to keep it going as well as a continuing parade of expensive failing equipment just doesn’t add up. When you wonder whether the green is the algae or the money spent on upkeep, it’s time to try something different.

At the moment the deck is 1/4 taken apart and the long since de-chlorinated water has been slowly siphoned out with hose over the last week. The treated lumber used to build the deck can probably be reused in other applications around the property. And the space left behind, well that’s still open to some discussion. I’d like to see a nice water garden with a pond of koi, but then that would require more upkeep than the pool did. I’m sure we’ll think of something…