What I’m Up to Now

If you read this blog regularly, you know I have a lot on my plate. Here’s a quick snapshot of what I’m up to.

It’s safe to say 2016 is off to a busy start.

Does an Operating System’s GUI Matter?

“Fibonacci” on the 168Hours blog says no and offers 10 Reasons why GUI Doesn’t Matter. His reasons, however, are basically screenshots using various tools to make Windows look a lot like Ubuntu (Linux), Mac OS X, Fedora, or KDE Plastik. I think this overlooks several key factors: performance, out-of-the-box configuration, and mass appeal.

Performance: first of all, as pretty as Windows Vista’s Aero can be, it is terribly slow and kludgy. It may be pretty, but I’ve turned off a lot of features, since my laptop, which is supposedly a mid-range-Vista laptop, can’t handle it smoothly enough for my needs. Secondly, making any OS look like something dramatically different requires add-ons and tweaks, which hog memory and processor cycles, reducing performance further. If Windows were meant to have transparent command line interfaces and the like, Bill Gates and his crew would have put them there; doing it after the fact is painful, like watching a champion pole vaulter trying to demonstrate his technique in slow motion – it doesn’t work, someone gets hurt, and nobody’s the better for it.

Out-of-the-box configuration: who cares what a geek can make a system look like? This is something that often confuses me. A true geek can, given enough time and effort, make a system look like just about anything his or her hardware can handle. This means nothing to the average user, who just wants things to work out of the box (or off the CD burn, or whatever). Most people don’t have the patience required to download, install, and configure numerous GUI tweaks, much less put up with the performance hits.

Mass appeal: obvious. Who cares what it can look like? Most people buying a computer or installing an OS care about its ability to run things they care about, its ease of use, and – because we are simple creatures and like shiny things – the eye candy factor. Denying this is pointless and the lack of a good GUI is one reason (secondary to lack of good virtualization tools) that Linux has held such low market share for so long.


WRECK (WordPress Regular Expression Comment Killer)

IMPORTANT: The plugin described below has not been updated or tested in many years. Use at your own risk.

In my ongoing battle against comment spam, I have finally decided to write myself a WordPress plugin as an additional layer of defense. It’s called WRECK (WordPress Regular Expression Comment Killer).

WRECK (WordPress Regular Expression Comment Killer) is an extremely simple plugin for marking comments as spam if they match certain regular expressions.

DOWNLOAD: wreck.zip
Current Version: 1.0
Release Date: 7/6/2008

INSTALLATION: Just download and copy wreck.php to your plugins folder (wordpress/wp-content/plugins), then activate it in the plugins section of your WordPress blog.

LICENSE: This plugin is open-source (GNU General Public License), but I would appreciate it if you let me know of any modifications you find helpful.

SUPPORT: No formal support is provided, but I will take a look at any requests/suggestions/complaints you send me through my contact form.

NOTES: This plugin is very simple to use, but BE CAREFUL! It uses regular expressions to filter comments, so a badly written regular expression may block legitimate comments.

By default, only one type of comment is blocked: a comment containing only two lines, the first of which is bolded, with an ellipsis (“…”) on each line. The author gets a lot of comment spam like this, which is the reason he wrote this plugin.

If you find this plugin useful, please let me know here. Please also let me know if you discover any useful rules or make any other modifications.


I hate ColdFusion

ColdFusion has to be the most inefficient web scripting language in the world. Sure, applications can be developed quickly in CFML, but installing and maintaining ColdFusion MX is a nightmare.

I have installed it on at least 5 computers, now, including several versions of Windows and Linux, and have never yet seen it install smoothly. Every time, it has involved uninstalling and reinstalling at least once, as well as at least one discussion either with tech support or other technical folks.

Throw in the fact the ColdFusion has major limitations – no arbitrary database connections, very limited image manipulation, problems with any kind of binary data involving NULL characters, etc – and ColdFusion has to be the most difficult platform to use, ever. PHP, Perl, and Python are all straightforward to install on various OSes, and are actually not nearly as limited as Macromedia (Adobe) would have us think.

Grrrr…. Back to wasting time on ColdFusion installations….

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