Monday, November 12, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Well of Urd: Technique: The Magic of Yevaud's Name

My main login ID, for a long time now, has been "Yevaud". I took this name from one of my favorite books of all time: A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Leguin. She wrote the book back in the late 60's, and I stumbled upon it at the tender age of 12 in my 6th grade public library. I read those words like they were magic, and I felt transformed by her work to a world of wonder and fantastic possibilities. It meant all the more to me because I stumbled upon it myself - it was like a secret treasure i had uncovered that was mine, and mine alone.

I recently ran across this entry in someone's blog. It talks about the technique of naming things when writing fantasy stories, or creating fantasy settings. (Link, here) It brought back to mind one of my long-standing reasons for heaping so much praise on the novel. It seems every time I read it, a new insight comes through.

I have never really found another author who could write such profound words while at the same time keeping the narrative straightforward enough that a 12 year old could follow it. There have always been books that both kids and adults could enjoy together, from C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe", to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. However, none of them have, in my mind, matched the accomplishment of Leguin's work. Her novel manages to remain as deep and insightful at 35 as it was at 12. The difference is in the way I read it - and the concepts I focus on. The layers of this novel are amazing - even more so because it seems on the surface to be such a straightforward story. Yet, I am continually finding new insights when I return to the book throughout the years.

If you have not yet read this landmark fantasy story, especially if you're interested in reading fantasy stories with your children, or you are a young adult yourself, check this book out as soon as you can. I think you will find it quite enjoyable.

-Michael Moore (June 29th, 2007 - Seattle, WA)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wired Reporter argues for phone interview, bloggers argue for email or blog-style format.

I recently couldn't refrain from commenting on the bloggers vs. Wired reporter story wherein a wired reporter (Fred Vogelstein) requested a phone interview, and Jason Calacanis and Dave Winer both insisted on doing it either via email or directly in their blogs.

The article I was responding to was heavily-weighted toward the blogger's side of things - and while I do feel that the idea has merit - I felt the attitudes of the bloggers were reprehensible. Especially in light of the cost to Mike Arrington, whom was the topic of the Wired article the interviews were being requested for.

----------- Begin My Comment From BuzzMachine Log: ---------------

I have read each of the blog pieces from each of the major players in this story. The way I see it, Fred V. has been nothing but reasonable, and while he has a point of view that clearly differs from the bloggers in question, it is the bloggers who have been abrasive and abusive first.

True, other Wired journalists were more aggressive and abrasive, but Fred V. has been nothing but a gentleman in all the email threads i have read.

These Gods of Blogging also nearly tanked a Wired article on TechCrunch - which is a selfish act IMHO - doubly-so by the fact that they actually know Mike. Read his response and clearly he feels he got screwed by their need to parade a request for a phone interview into the blogosphere.

Think about how much that Wired article might have meant to Mike A. That's a huge loss for him - both in exposure and credentials. Even better, he has his "friends'" self-righteousness to thank for it. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

The tone of the whole coverage for this has been misleading, from my point of view. I found from the way the stories were presented on places like Techmeme that I was on the side of the bloggers - until I actually read the articles and found Fred V. to be the reasonable one.

I'm not saying Jason & Dave were not possessed of good points - I think they (and you) make a good case for doing interviews in more internet-aware ways - but the way the points were made, and at the cost of their colleague's article in Wired, showed a real lack of class in my book.

In closing, I would like to thank Fred V. for diligently posting the actual email threads that relate to the blog postings so that I could see the real facts of the case and form my opinion based on them. Rest assured, Mr. V., that at least in my case, it made all the difference in my understanding your true role and the respect you are owed.

-Michael Moore (

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Editor Brain Modes

I wound up tying in a long comment to "Coding Horror's" blog... so I thought I would post it here too since this is my official place for programmer musings and fun discussions.


I am a big fan of using the keyboard as much as possible. I have found that over the years I have formed "modes" in my brain for the different types of editors I use:

  • Mode # 1 - "Everyman" Editing:

    This is my brain mode for when I am in a standard windows text box, a notepad window, or editing something on someone else's editor and I want to have the best chance of things just "working". No fancy, feelin' cool editing tricks here. Just get the job done and use the experience to remind you of how much nicer the other mode's are.. (This message typed in Mode # 1).

  • Mode # 2 - "Faux Emacs":

    Ah, old school emacs. This is my favorite, because if you are trained right you can keep both hands on the keyboard for just about everything. No lifting your hand up to search for arrow keys or the home/end. Just keep those palms flat on the keyboard ergo-bench and type away. Emacs uses the CTRL and ALT keys as modifiers for all the basic editing commands, and has no qualms about, say, using Control-F to mean "move cursor forward" and Control-d to mean "delete character". There are some interesting conflicts that arise when you bring the default emacs commands to windows. The one that really freaks people out is when I have Page-Down mapped to Control-V. Heaven help the poor soul who tries to use my Visual Studio while its emacs profile is still engaged. They go to paste a bit of text and the *entire screen changes!* Heh heh... if I had a dime for every time a coworker yelped in dismay...

    I do have a somewhat hybrid set up for those apps that I can configure to use emacs key bindings - things like Shift + Control + F = Extend selection forward one char, Shift + Control + A = Extend selection to start of line, and Control + U = Page Up (took that from vi). I am actually more in tune with this "bastardized" hybrid than true emacs, but drop me in real emacs editor and I only start to choke when I have to remember those funky double-sequence commands like Control-X Control-S to save and the like. Or heaven help me if I need to remember how to manipulate kill regions or run a Meta-X search-for-string...
  • Mode # 3: "To The Pain" (g)VI(m) -

    Long ago I lived in worlds where sometimes emacs was not available. I bit the bullet and learned VI. It is just as powerful as emacs in its ability to let you keep those palms flat on the keyboard, but it does it in a different way. VI is a "mode-based" editor - meaning that you press a key ('i') and then everything you type until you hit the ESCAPE key is treated as text input. If you are not in 'insert' mode, then you're in 'command' mode, which is where you can move around ('ijkl') and enter "colon" commands like ':w ~/myfile.txt', ':wq' (write file then quit), or ':q!' (quit without saving, dammit).

    After literally years, I eventually reached the point where I could effortlessly switch into "vi" mode and do quie well. These days, I am even able to do basic search and replace without having to look it up. Don't believe me? Check this out:


    Looks like Sendmail control codes, or Perl gone right, eh? No sir, it is my version of "Replace every occurence of the word 'foobar' with 'Snickers' in the file. My mind tells me that this command is essentially broken down like this:

    ':1,$s/foobar' // search for the string foobar anywhere from
    // the 1st line to the end of file '$'.

    // If you find a foobar, replace it with Snickers please...

    'g' // Oh, and do it globally for all matches you find.
    // (Snickers really satisfies...).

    It turns out that depending on which vi you are using you may not need the 'g' part at all.. and frankly if you use me as your canonical reference for how to break down the vi command above you should have your brain checked for lesions.

    Well, anyway, that's my brain on editors after well over ten years of programming in Unix, Windows, and other seedy locales. Thank you for listening :-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mouse scroll wheel too sensitive? This might work...

The Mouse with A.D.D.

Recently, for no reason that I can figure out, my mouse scroll wheel suddenly became hypersensitive. I would scroll just a tiny fraction and the window in focus would scroll down as if I had spun the wheel harder than the burliest contestant on The Price Is Right. Reams and reams of virtual pages would careen before my eyes. I would try to barely move it - but it was like playing that Operator game -- and I kept touching the sides! BZZZZZZT!!! It was so sensitive that just the barest touch of my finger would send it down several pages. On several occasions, and I am not making this up, the damn thing would literally scroll UPWARDS after it hit the bottom of the page, as if it were bouncing back due to some kind of virtual scroll-wheel backlash.

It nearly drove me insane. I had to put a stop to it.

The problem was systemic to all applications, so it seemed likely a driver issue. After fiddling with the control panel, which didn't help because the slowest scroll speed was still 100 KPH or better, I went to phase two and upgraded the mouse driver. I installed the latest Microsoft Intellipoint mouse driver, and that fixed the issue without even requiring a reboot. Yay!

So the next time your mouse is giving you problems, try upgrading the mouse driver software. Or even just reinstalling the drivers you already have. Chances are good that this may fix your problem. If not, there's always tech support .


Monday, March 19, 2007

Twitter Mania

I have recently been checking out the new web-craze called Twitter. I heard mention of it many times on TWiT ( before I finally decided I would check it out. At first I was confused as to what the heck was the big deal - but I suddenly "got" it when I added Leo Laporte, the host of TWiT, to my friends list. Suddenly I felt I was connected with his life in a way that I've never experienced before. It seems silly, but knowing what he was up to during the day kept me somehow feeling closer to him. I didn't really feel like a stalker, though in truth there is definitely a stalker element to this, but rather as some kind of privileged friend that had Leo on my MSN account or something and I kept getting IM messages from him.

It is strange to know more about what Leo is doing during the day than my own wife, or anyone else in my life, other than my coworkers. Very interesting.

I think the other thing that I have come to associate with twitter is a sense of being in the midst of a maelstrom of web links and blogging and cool links. As soon as I added a few of the "popular" or "A-list" tweeters, such as Scoble & Calcannis (sp?) I found myself quickly overwhelmed with the amount of links they were posting and the sheer volume of information those personalities could shovel at the populace in a day. They seemed to have a capacity for reading and trolling and posting links that far exceeded my meager ability to read them.

In the end I can simply de-friend the ones that are to annoying/noisy. I liked Jason Calcannis' style, but the guy is hyperactive at a level I can't match - so I removed him from my friends list and suddenly the world seems a bit more peaceful now.

Now if I can just get the gumption up to drop Scoble from my list. ..