Miro Video Converter #

Convert videos to MP4, WebM (vp8), Ogg Theora, etc. Free and open source. Donations encouraged. I just used it to convert this video into WebM and MP4 formats.

Doom Versus Windows, Hierarchy #

Michael Abrash:

Gabe tells it this way. When he was at Microsoft in the early 90’s, he commissioned a survey of what was actually installed on users’ PCs. The second most widely installed software was Windows.

Number one was Id’s Doom.

The idea that a 10-person company of 20-somethings in Mesquite, Texas, could get its software on more computers than the largest software company in the world told him that something fundamental had changed about the nature of productivity. When he looked into the history of the organization, he found that hierarchical management had been invented for military purposes, where it was perfectly suited to getting 1,000 men to march over a hill to get shot at. When the Industrial Revolution came along, hierarchical management was again a good fit, since the objective was to treat each person as a component, doing exactly the same thing over and over.

Consequently, Valve has no formal management or hierarchy at all.

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Fix for Aching Wrist When Developing With a Mac

When developing websites I use keyboard shortcuts such as Command-Tab to switch applications, Command-R to refresh the browser window and Ctrl-R in the Terminal to search for and execute previous commands.

I’ve come to realize that doing the above continuously is hurting my wrist and have found the following solution:

  1. Either remap Command-Tab to another key or concentrate on using a different technique such as Mission Control to switch applications, or concentrate on pressing the Command key on the right-hand side of the keyboard with your right hand.
  2. Install the ReloadEvery Firefox plugin and restart your browser. You can now right click in any webpage and select, for example, Reload Every > Reload Every 5 Seconds to have the current browser tab automatically refreshed every 5 seconds. No more Command-R!
  3. Either Remap the Control key to Caps-Lock, or concentrate on pressing the Ctrl key on the right-hand side of the keyboard with your right hand.
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Elite: Dangerous Education

In 1984 David Braben and Ian Bell managed to fit a simulated galaxy into 22 Kilobytes — a computer programming feat that inspired the creation of the first internet newsgroup as well as a generation of programmers.

Now, after a successful crowdfunding campaign, Braben is bringing the classic Elite computer simulation1 to a new generation, and this time it simulates what we know about our existing galaxy, with procedural programming techniques based on real-world data filling in what we don’t.

Beagle 2 Landing

Approaching Beagle 2 Landing space station orbiting the Asellus A moon, which orbits the planet Asellus. The station is named after Colin Pillinger and his Beagle 2 spacecraft. Click the image to see a large version.

Elite: Dangerous provides a testing platform for future space exploration ideas from engineering to everything else, and a holistic education about the cosmos which the human species are still a living part of, although barely.

My first reaction to the Elite: Dangerous title was that it was a bit unfortunate, but after thinking of its portrayal of the immensity of our cosmos as a dangerous idea to the human status-quo of nationalism and organized religion, I now like it (these human themes are also present in the simulation — when we stop fighting over lines on maps here on Earth, we may well begin fighting over them in space).

‘SteveWilds’ in the comments of The New Yorker’s article:2

You can also explore this reconstructed galaxy in David Braben’s game. In fact the first and biggest player group in the game will be the First Great Expedition, whose goal is to travel as far into the simulation as possible, mapping and recording their discoveries as they go, as virtual scientific endeavour.

No other computer game has given people the opportunity to do this, let alone in a theoretically accurate simulation of this scale.

The work of Braben and his team at the aptly-named Frontier Developments is art fused with science and engineering in the spirit of the Renaissance, exploring human themes of curiousity, communication and commerce, loneliness, fear and love, through our greatest medium of communication so far.

Elite brings me joy because like the internet it shows that humans are capable of creating beauty during and despite of our continuing mass-stupidity.

I will write more about the experience of flying in a spaceship next. For now, I leave you with Kurt Vonnegut:3

I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts. This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.

And Carl Sagan:

For we are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring..

An education about our cosmos is needed now, more than ever.

Many thanks to David Braben and his team at Frontier for making this, and to all the Kickstarter backers!


  1. The word ‘videogame’ is still often scorned by people who don’t play, so I avoid it. 

  2. I can’t seem to find the original comment any longer. Was it actually on Reddit? If you find it, please let me know

  3. I’m wonder if Kurt would have enjoyed Elite: Dangerous

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George Orwell: Politics and the English Language #

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.

Turbulence #

To understand turbulence we need the intuitive perspective of art.

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Violence

When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.

—Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom From the Known, Chapter 6.

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Sandstorm: Personal Cloud Sandbox #

Because you should own your data. The project is led by ex-Google-engineer Kenton Varda and is currently crowdfunding.

GitHub for Academics #

Though originally developed as a way to share and merge software code, any types of files can be part of a GitHub repository, making it a great collaborative tool for academics, finds Kris Shaffer. Since any open-licensed project can be hosted on GitHub for free, it can function as a publishing platform, a peer-review system, a learning management tool, and a locus for intra- and inter-institutional collaboration.

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Dillinger Markdown Editor

Dillinger is yet another free, open source option for text editing happiness. This one’s good. Uses Marked which makes it fast. And even has support for Markdown tables syntax!

I have it running at write.hypertexthero.com after doing the following:

  1. Install Node.
  2. Setup a website, domain and application.
  3. Install Dillinger from the GitHub repository
  4. Install forever so it keeps running.
  5. Edit ~/home/<myusername>/webapps/write/dillinger/app.js and make sure my assigned port number from step 2 above is entered in the following line:

    app.set('port', process.env.PORT || #####); //  port assigned by webfaction app
    
  6. Started the application with:

    forever start -a /home/hth/webapps/write/dillinger/app.js
    

It should ideally be:

forever start -a -l forever.log -o /home/hth/logs/user/out.log -e /home/hth/logs/user/logs/err.log --minUptime=5000 --spinSleepTime=2000 /home/hth/webapps/write/dillinger/app.js

…but this fails for some reason — looking into it.

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Markx: Markdown Editor for Scientific Writing #

Another option for text editing happiness.

Noto: Typeface for All Languages #

Like Gentium.

Albert Einstein Institution #

Advancing freedom through nonviolent action.

Stop The Transatlantic Trade Investor Partnership #

European citizens against a global ban on left-wing politics.

George Monbiot:

The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago(2). But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.

Steve Jobs Next to the IBM Logotype #

Reminds me of a friend of mine.

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Connect to Raspberry Pi From an iMac

  1. Install Raspbian OS image into SD card
  2. Slide SD Card into Raspberry Pi, then connect an ethernet cable from the Pi to your router and connect a power cable to the Pi (in my case the power cable is also connected to a USB port in the router for power)
  3. Install nmap on Mac to find out IP address of Pi on network and then SSH into the Pi:

    1. brew install nmap
    2. sudo nmap -sn 192.168.1.0/24

      Starting Nmap 6.40 ( http://nmap.org ) at 2014-07-15 19:27 CEST
      Nmap scan report for 192.168.1.1
      Host is up (0.0021s latency).
      MAC Address: 78:6A:89:42:7A:76 (Unknown)
      Nmap scan report for 192.168.1.3
      Host is up (0.092s latency).
      MAC Address: 00:88:65:3F:94:A8 (Apple)
      Nmap scan report for 192.168.1.4
      Host is up (0.0035s latency).
      MAC Address: B8:27:EB:69:DC:41 (Raspberry Pi Foundation)
      Nmap scan report for 192.168.1.11
      Host is up.
      Nmap done: 256 IP addresses (4 hosts up) scanned in 3.44 seconds
      
  4. ssh -X pi@192.168.1.4

  5. Setup VNC server on the Pi
    1. apt-get install tightvncserver
    2. vncserver
    3. vncserver :1
  6. And on the iMac.
  7. And from any device with a terminal in the same network, including an iPhone with an application such as Prompt: ssh -X pi@192.168.1.4

To be expanded with more details.

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Osservatorio Sulla Censura Di Internet in Italia #

List of censored websites in Italy.

SQlite: Small, Fast, Reliable #

My favorite thing about SQlite is that it is just one file. Need to do a quick backup? Drag and drop.

Alegreya #

Very nice free typeface designed by Juan Pablo del Peral found via the Patoline website’s source code. See it also at Font Squirrel.

The Videogame That Maps The Galaxy #

SteveWilds’ in the comments of The New Yorker’s article:

@jmr You can also explore this reconstructed galaxy in David Braben’s game. In fact the first and biggest player group in the game will be the First Great Expedition, whose goal is to travel as far into the simulation as possible, mapping and recording their discoveries as they go, as virtual scientific endeavour.

No other computer game has given people the opportunity to do this, let alone in a theoretically accurate simulation of this scale.

Can’t wait for Elite: Dangerous! I bought the Premium Beta this past weekend, so expect more about it here shortly.

Why Should We Support the Idea of an Unconditional Basic Income #

It’s kind of curious isn’t it? Here we are worrying people will work less if we guarantee a basic income, and the reality of the situation is that people are presently working too much, and it is costing all of us. Combine this with the fact there’s 3 people seeking every 1 available job, and the obvious solution is that we actually want people to be able to choose to work less, to free up more positions for those seeking jobs who are currently being excluded from the labor market.

Plus, the very ability of people to not need a job, makes it that much harder for employers to exploit employees with insufficient wages and poor working conditions. The ability to actually say “No”, means the empowerment of labor on an individual level — no unions required.

Simply put, basic income makes work actually pay.

So why should you support unconditional basic income? Why should you have supported the abolition of slavery back in the late 19th century? Why should you have supported the right for people other than rich white men to vote? Why should you have supported our landing on the Moon? Why should you have supported the ending of the Vietnam war, or the beginning of LBJ’s war on poverty?

Because you want to make our world a better place. That’s why.

Education and World Peace #

Beliefs, ideologies and organized religions are setting us against our neighbours; there is conflict, not only among different societies, but among groups within the same society. We must realize that as long as we identify ourselves with a country, as long as we cling to security, as long as we are conditioned by dogmas, there will be strife and misery both within ourselves and in the world.

Then there is the whole question of patriotism. When do we feel patriotic? It is obviously not an everyday emotion. But we are sedulously encouraged to be patriotic through school-books, through newspapers and other channels of propaganda, which stimulate racial egotism by praising national heroes and telling us that our own country and way of life are better than others. This patriotic spirit feeds our vanity from childhood to old age.

The constantly repeated assertion that we belong to a certain political or religious group, that we are of this nation or of that, flatters our little egos, puffs them out like sails, until we are ready to kill or be killed for our country, race or ideology. It is all so stupid and unnatural. Surely, human beings are more important than national and ideological boundaries.

The separative spirit of nationalism is spreading like fire all over the world. Patriotism is cultivated and cleverly exploited by those who are seeking further expansion, wider powers, greater enrichment; and each one of us takes part in this process, for we also desire these things. Conquering other lands and other people provides new markets for goods as well as for political and religious ideologies.

One must look at all these expressions of violence and antagonism with an unprejudiced mind, that is, with a mind that does not identify itself with any country, race or ideology, but tries to find out what is true. There is great joy in seeing a thing clearly without being influenced by the notions and instructions of others, whether they be the government, the specialists or the very learned. Once we really see that patriotism is a hindrance to human happiness, we do not have to struggle against this false emotion in ourselves, it has gone from us forever.”

—Jiddu Krishnamurti in Education and the Significance of Life.

Universal Basic Income as the Foundation of Freedom #

A basic income gives people the freedom to turn down unattractive work and to start cooperative ventures that are more rewarding, in the sense of more pleasant but also more in line with the goals people have set for their lives.

Migration and Human Rights #

Found P.a.p.-Blog while researching in preparation to ask Muhammad Yunus some questions today. From the about page:

I blog about human rights – including political and economic rights such as the right to participate in government (democracy being a subset of human rights) and the right not to suffer poverty – from the perspective of politics, art, philosophy (hence p.a.p.), law, economics, statistics, psychology etc.

Sympathy for the Luddites #

Paul Krugman on Basic Income.

Freddie King - Live in Europe 1973–4 #
The Endless River #

New Pink Floyd album this October.

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Supervisord Configuration at Webfaction

Problem: Your server machine crashes and your website running under an application server such as Gunicorn goes down. The app server needs to be restarted.

Solution: Use supervisord to monitor your application server process and restart it if it dies.

  1. Install supervisord:

    pip install supervisor
    
  2. Put the follosing in ~/etc/supervisord.conf (includes examples for hypertexthero.com and Food News):

    [unix_http_server]
    file=/home/hth/tmp/supervisor.sock
    
    [supervisord]
    logfile=/home/hth/logs/user/supervisord.log
    logfile_maxbytes=25MB
    logfile_backups=10
    loglevel=info
    pidfile=/home/hth/etc/supervisord.pid
    
    [rpcinterface:supervisor]
    supervisor.rpcinterface_factory = supervisor.rpcinterface:make_main_rpcinterface
    
    [supervisorctl]
    serverurl=unix:///home/hth/tmp/supervisor.sock
    
    [include]
    files = /home/hth/webapps/hypertexthero/hypertexthero-env/hth/hth/conf/supervisor.ini /home/hth/webapps/foodnews/fn-env/fn/supervisor.ini
    
  3. Create a supervisor.ini file in each web application’s repository so we keep supervisor settings for the application in version control. Example:

    [program:hypertexthero.com]
    command=/home/hth/webapps/hypertexthero/hypertexthero-env/bin/python2.7 /home/hth/webapps/hypertexthero/hypertexthero-env/bin/gunicorn_django --daemon -b 127.0.0.1:23035 -w 2 --max-requests 500
    directory=/home/hth/webapps/hypertexthero/hypertexthero-env/hth/hth
    user=hth
    autostart=true
    autorestart=true
    redirect_stderr=True
    
  4. Start supervisord using its main configuration file:

    supervisord -c /home/hth/etc/supervisord.conf
    

If problem, see this.

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What Is It That Comes When Nationalism Goes? #

Krishnamurti: Obviously, intelligence. But I am afraid that is not the implication in this question. The implication is, what can be substituted for nationalism? Any substitution is an act which does not bring intelligence. If I leave one religion and join another, or leave one political party and later on join something else, this constant substitution indicates a state in which there is no intelligence.

How does nationalism go? Only by our understanding its full implications, by examining it, by being aware of its significance in outward and inward action. Outwardly it brings about divisions between people, classifications, wars and destruction, which is obvious to anyone who is observant. Inwardly, psychologically, this identification with the greater, with the country, with an idea, is obviously a form of self-expansion. Living in a little village or a big town or whatever it may be, I am nobody; but if I identify myself with the larger, with the country, if I call myself a Hindu, it flatters my vanity, it gives me gratification, prestige, a sense of well-being; and that identification with the larger, which is a psychological necessity for those who feel that self-expansion is essential, also creates conflict, strife, between people. Thus nationalism not only creates outward conflict but inward frustrations; when one understands nationalism, the whole process of nationalism, it falls away. The understanding of nationalism comes through intelligence, by carefully observing, by probing into the whole process of nationalism, patriotism. Out of that examination comes intelligence and then there is no substitution of something else for nationalism. The moment you substitute religion for national1sm, religion becomes another means of self-expansion, another source of psychological anxiety, a means of feeding oneself through a belief. Therefore any form of substitution, however noble, is a form of ignorance. It is like a man substituting chewing gum or betel nut or whatever it is for smoking, whereas if one really understands the whole problem of smoking, of habits, sensations, psychological demands and all the rest of it, then smoking drops away. You can understand only when there is a development of intelligence, when intelligence is functioning, and intelligence is not functioning when there is substitution. Substitution is merely a form of self-bribery, to tempt you not to do this but to do that. Nationalism, with its poison, with its misery and world strife, can disappear only when there is intelligence, and intelligence does not come merely by passing examinations and studying books. Intelligence comes into being when we understand problems as they arise. When there is understanding of the problem at its different levels, not only of the outward part but of its inward, psychological implications, then, in that process, intelligence comes into being. So when there is intelligence there is no substitution; and when there is intelligence, then nationalism, patriotism, which is a form of stupidity, disappears.

django-oauth-toolkit #

This is the sanest thing I’ve come across while researching Single Sign-On architectures for a set of applications. Will use it in a second prototype before making a decision (the first prototype used a CAS architecture which may be the preferred option as it is for a set of related websites at work).

About the Logbook

The Hypertexthero Logbook is a blog about web, design and simplicity. It includes links to other places on the internet that Hypertexthero finds interesting.