I’m a PC

This I’m a PC ad campaign is way better than the Seinfeld one that was cut so quickly last month.

Joe Wilcox at microsoft-watch sums it up:

Overall, the commercials are endearing. I like them more than I expected. But their shortcoming is the same as the Bill and Jerry ads: The commercials don’t say much about Windows. In that sense, Apple set the agenda by using PC to identify Windows.

Yes! They’re endearing!  The commercials imply that there are tons of PC users out there who don’t feel the need to make a loud statement about how they’re different because of their operating system and just go about their lives.  Who would you rather be, the Mac hipster depicted by Justin Long, or one everyday people from all walks of life-fishermen, students, taxi drivers, artists and scientists-shown on the PC ads?

October 21, 2008. Tags: , , . technology, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

rsync: Be mindful of the trailing slash!

Pop Quiz:  What’s the difference between these two commands?

#1: rsync -a --delete /some/path/a/ /some/otherpath/
#2: rsync -a --delete /some/path/a /some/otherpath/

Answer: the first will make /some/otherpath mirror the contents of /some/path/a, while the latter will create a directory in /some/otherpath/a whose contents will mirror /some/path/a.

Be warned! If you’re not careful and you use #1 when you intend to use #2, you can lose files in /some/otherpath.

Edit: Found this resource online: Rsync explanations and recommendations

October 21, 2008. Tags: . Linux. Leave a comment.

Annoying Snap Shots popups

Agh!  I hate popups that come up when I mouse-over a lnk.  They’re extremely annoying when they contain advertising and completely useless when they offer a preview of the link.

I’m ashamed that wordpress enables them by default.  Does anybody know how to disable them on wordpress.com blogs?  Anyways, Snap.com has instructions for disabling them in their FAQ.

Edit: After a bit of googling, I found a few sites with instructions for disabling them on wordpress, but they refer to a “Presentation” tab which has since been renamed “Design.”  Anyways, you can uncheck the “Enable Snap Shots to this blog” checkbox to get rid of them.  Just thought I’d repeat the updated instructions here.

October 16, 2008. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

hg-fast-export: convert Mercurial repositories to git repositories

There are *-to-git conversion tools for converting almost every SCM repository to a git repository.

I used hg quite extensively earlier this year, but switched to git within the last couple months.  This is partly because I’ve found that git is much faster (on linux) and because it’s easier for me to wrap my mind around the the git philosophy of branching vs. hg’s.  I had to dig up an old mercurial repository from an old project today and was decided to convert it to git.

Here’s what I had to do:

$ git clone git://repo.or.cz/fast-export.git
$ mkdir new_git_repo
$ cd new_git_repo
$ git init
$ /path/to/hg-fast-export.sh -r /path/to/hg_repo
$ git checkout HEAD

A couple notes:

  1. I had to run hg-fast-export.sh instead of hg-fast-import.sh, contrary to what the README said.  Typo?
  2. It doesn’t check out a working copy for you (it’s a feature, not a bug 🙂 ), so I had to do it myself in the last step.
  3. I found that hg-fast-export works better than hg-to-git.  I had some problems converting very large hg repositories.  Maybe it’s preformance-related as hg-fast-export uses the Mercurial and git python libs directly while hg-to-git uses some combination of shell and python.

October 16, 2008. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 6 comments.

Being human over email

I’ve always felt that interacting over email/IM adds a layer of indirection that subconsciously obscures the fact that you’re communicating with another human being on the other side.  When you’re emailing someone, you aren’t able to observe the hundreds of subtle and not-so-subtle non-verbal cues that occur in every short face-to-face conversation.  I think that’s why it can make difficult news less difficult to deliver, and hard conversations, well…less hard to have.

Until today, I’ve never stopped to consider how the person on the other side felt.  Is bad news less bad?  Probably not.  Can one get a sense of the sympathy that the sender is expressing in an email?

How does email affect honesty?  Does it make it harder to tell if someone is lying?  The NYTimes Well blog mentions a study about email and honesty:

Researchers at Rutgers and DePaul Universities studied how e-mail influenced communication among 48 graduate students. In the study, they told students they had $89. Each student could then divide the money any way he or she liked and give a portion to another person whom they didn’t know.

The students used e-mail or pen and paper to divvy the pot. In describing the amount of money to be divided, students using e-mail lied more than 92 percent of the time. In comparison, about 64 percent of the students using pen and paper lied about the pot size.

Among those students who lied about the size of the pot, the students using pen and paper were more generous. On average, students using e-mail claimed the pot was $56, and they offered the other person $29. Pen-and-paper students said they had $67 to share and offered the other person $34.

So the conclusion was that students lied more, and told bigger lies if they were using email over pen and paper.  My take on it is that email feels even less personal than writing something on pen and paper.  This leads to less of a feeling of accountability when using email as the medium for communication.  It would have been even more interesting if they did some trials with face-to-face communication.

That doesn’t mean that we should outlaw email.  As with other advances in technology, it can make us more efficient but also has the danger of removing a bit of humanity from our day-to-day lives.  Remember, friends: Emails don’t kill people; people kill people!

October 7, 2008. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

How the markets really work

This video does a great job explaining how the markets really work.  I never thought I would be able to laugh at what one of my friends in the industry described as “the worst financial crisis in history.”

“This package of dodgy debts stops being a package of dodgy debts and becomes what’s called a structured investment vehicle”

September 24, 2008. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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