Midsummer Terminal Evenings

A cursory glance at the news is more than enough to realize that we’re well into the silly season, so I’ll spare you my opinion on most of it.

Again, the choice bits that I pick up now and then are in the full site feed – I’m actually becoming quite fond of the featured links, since they force me to write short, to the point commentary instead of rambling on as is my custom.

Still, It’s interesting to notice that six months ago I was much more interested in industry news than I am today – since it’s now a good part of my job to keep track of those bits of telco news that would ordinarily interest me, I tend to ignore most of it now and focus on small niches or purely technical stuff at home.

An odd inversion, but I suppose It’s the natural order of things – one tends to need to do something different to relax, and in my case that usually means hopping from industry trends to pure technology (or the reverse).

House Cleaning

In the meantime, I’ve started playing around with Hazel to figure out if it can replace my custom folder action scripts (it’s much easier to reconfigure, although it could make it easier to invoke scripts) and removed Fink from my iMac, mostly to reduce entropy – it was becoming tedious to deal with minor inconsistencies between my MacBook, my mini and other machines, and BSD habits die hard.

Basically, I’ve come to realize that I’d rather think of Mac OS X as another BSD machine than as some odd hybrid, and I want to run the same versions of stuff everywhere.

Plus I don’t need as many binary packages as I used to in the past, and the stuff I do need (like Wireshark or ImageMagick) isn’t updated that often that I can’t leave it compiling over dinner or so.

Fink was sort of falling behind, too, which didn’t help.

For instance, ImageMagick was at version 6.1.8 in the binary distribution, 6.2.8 in stable and 6.3.2 in unstable, whereas MacPorts is already at 6.3.5, which means I can actually experiment with the new features and not have to spend hours figuring out whether the image processing isn’t turning out right because I’m using obsolete versions, etc.

So these days I just type sudo port install mercurial wireshark jhead ImageMagick and most of what I need gets installed. I also have lighty installed on my Macs, which I prefer to the built-in Apache (this site is now fronted by lighty, with Yaki running most of the show behind it).

Ah, of course – I’ve started using Mercurial, too, mostly because it’s blisteringly fast and seems to deal well with my odd habit of coding from several different machines. It’s been happening for a few months now – I’ve even set it up under Cygwin at the office to manage some HTML content we localized, and it works just fine.

Not that there are any other Marketing people using a Python-based SCM, but versioning is essential for some things, and I’d rather do it in a single way everywhere (plus Mercurial does not clutter my filesystem with oodles of dot-something directories).

Oh, and of course, this entire Wiki will eventually go into a Mercurial repository at some point – Yaki is especially suited to this kind of thing, and the only thing stopping me at this point is sheer inertia – there’s no reason why I can’t use Mercurial to manage the whole show on any of my machines…