Help Kill Software Patents #

Answer questions and help find prior-art in Ask Patents.

On Manufactured Opportunities #

…long walks invariably pay for the time they cost in many ways: health, mental well-being, increased fitness and maybe best of all, a steady stream of ideas.

Matthew Carter: My LIfe in Typefaces #

If you’ve used the internet (or a phone book in English-speaking countries) you’ve seen Matthew’s work.

Highlight, Copy and Translate Text From Any Image From Your Web Browser #

Project Naptha. Currently only works with Chrome, but impressive.

Instant WayBack URL #

You can now push a page to the WayBack Machine and instantly get a permanent WayBack URL for that page.

What is Money? #

See also ‘otherwiseyep’s’ answer to the ‘Where has all the money in the world gone?’ question on Reddit, and HN comments on ’Free Money for Everyone’, particularly lukifer’s:

I believe that basic income would unlock a lot of hidden wealth:

  1. Many more people would try their hand at entrepreneurship, and/or re-enter education, if they are freed from the obligation to work to survive.

  2. There would be little need for minimum wage laws; unskilled labor can become primarily for earning a little more spending money, or about social roles within a group or community. The incentive for high-end labor would remain.

  3. Much more non-profit activity, such as political engagement and volunteer labor, would become feasible (including the immeasurable wealth of more time spent raising children).

  4. Let’s face it: there are a lot of quasi-useless laborers out there, who are a drag co-efficient on productivity. The people who do the bare minimum to survive contribute more to the economy by staying home.

There are deep macroeconomic and budgetary challenges to such a policy, and the socioeconomic effects are hard to predict. It certainly wouldn’t be revenue-neutral, though it could be offset by other reductions in the welfare state (not to mention the prison-industrial complex).

One way or another, the value and negotiating leverage of human labor is declining. As globalization spreads, domain-specific AI improves, and software continues to “eat the world”, this trend will only progress. If we don’t want to revert to a world of lords and serfs, basic income is the best way to preserve Adam Smith’s humanistic vision of capitalism. And in the Western world, we are damn sure rich enough to afford it.

Microsoft Sharepoint is Terrible Software #


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Easy Way to Backup a Website

This is an edited version of my comment posted at TOP.

I’ve recently had some trouble with an old web host and have been thinking about backups.

An easy way to backup an entire site as it is, with comments and styles intact, is to fire up a Unix utility called wget and have it crawl your site and save a static HTML version of it in a folder in your computer. You can then move this folder to your own server or web hosting company easily.

The command may take a while to run depending on the size of your site, but is generally very fast, and gives you an HTML archive that can be served by a web server and browsed with a web browser regardless of service or software changes.

First you will need to install wget if you don’t have it already.

Then you can run the following command in your terminal1 (replace ‘’ — which appears twice — with your site domain):

wget --recursive --no-clobber --page-requisites --html-extension --convert-links --restrict-file-names=unix --domains

Once the command finishes processing you will have a folder containing the site’s contents in your computer.

  1. In Mac OS X the Terminal application is in /Applications/Utilities/Terminal

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Space Colony Art from the 1970s #

Don Davis, one of the illustrators whose work appears here, was part of the team of artists gathered to provide the visual effects for Cosmos.

Some of his recollections of working with Sagan.

Improve Developer Habits by Showing Time Cost of Database Queries #

Good advice.

CSS Vocabulary #

Would be great to have something like this for programming languages such as Python, Ruby, etc.

Quantum Mysteries Disentangled #

Ron Garret’s paper showing that observation (measurement) and quantum entanglement are the same things. Linked to from this HN discussion (emphasis mine):

It turns out that by thinking of measurement and entanglement as related phenomena we can shed quite a bit of light (so to speak) on the nature of physical reality. In fact, it can help us comprehend that which Einstein found most incomprehensible: the comprehensibility of the Universe.

The Universe is comprehensible because large parts of it are consistent. This consistency allows us to understand our experiences in terms of stories whose explanatory power endures from one moment to the next. (When these stories are told using mathematics we call them scientific theories.) Some of these stories, like the idea of a material object, are hardwired into the human brain. Other stories, like the idea of a chemical or electricity, are not innate. One of the triumphs of the human species is that we are able to communicate these stories, so that a new story once constructed can be propagated without having to be encoded into our DNA.

Extrasomatic knowledge — books, libraries — are one of our species’ great achievements.

The best I can offer as an answer to that question is a Zen koan from Douglas Hofstadter:

Two monks were arguing about a flag. One said, “The flag is moving.” The other said, “The wind is moving.” The sixth patriarch, Zeno, happened to be passing by. He told them, “Not the wind, not the flag. Mind is moving.”

Or as Jiddu Krishnamurti put it, the thinker is the thought, the observer is the observed.

Comics Are a Good Medium for Communicating Complex Concepts #

Polymath Randall Munroe explains the Heartbleed bug.

The Death of a Saab #

Amber’s wonderful piece about the demise of our 2005 road trip ride in The American Magazine.

Videogames and Physics Education #

Orbital Mechanics.Orbital Mechanics by Randall Munroe

The game that taught me orbital mechanics was Space War.

LocalForage: Easier HTML Offline Storage #

Library from Mozilla that makes storing data offline in any browser an easier task.

I've Lost Track of Everyone Who's Spent Me Over The Years, But Some Faces Still Shine Out #

Wonderful story through drawings by Chris Ware.

Ed Snowden Uses Tails OS #

More from the Tails website:

Tails is a live operating system, that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to:

  • use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship; all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network;
  • leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly;
  • use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.
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Salary Rights

So long as you have a frontier, whether national, economic, religious or social, it is an obvious fact that there cannot be peace.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom, Relationship and Isolation, pp. 105–106

Would, say, 100 Euros per month for every person on the planet, regardless of whether they work or not, not help the world become a better place?

This question came to mind when I watched the images of destroyed Indonesian rainforest in Years of Living Dangerously.

Satellite image from NASA showing smoke from forest fires in Indonesia.

Smoke billowing from illegal wildfires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in June 2013. Courtesy of NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Why do people cut the trees? Because they get paid to do it.1 What if each and every human, everywhere in the world, was paid a salary which allowed them to choose not to do a job they did not like? Would the trees continue to be cut and burned? Would climate change, a problem that affects all of us, be a problem still?

The idea is not new, but perhaps it needs a better name. How about Salary Rights?2

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 3:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

And Article 4:

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Does war not often happen because of hunger? Will people not do most anything to avoid hunger? Would a right to a salary help?

Whatever answers we humans give to these questions will affect us all.

Forest fire photograph.

A woman walks through haze as a forest fire burns bushes in Siak Regency, Riau Province, Indonesia. Photograph by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty.

  1. I searched for ‘Indonesian farmer salary’ and the first result is Derry Wijaya’s A Farmer’s Hope PDF, which notes an Indonesian farmer’s average monthly income is around 135,000 Indonesian Rupiahs (IDR), which currently equals 8.50 Euros. It is unclear whether this figure is from 2003 or more recent but the point is that it is much less than 100 Euros. 

  2. Another suggestion is Basic Income — the 15th International Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network is happening Friday June 27th to Sunday June 29th 2014 in the McGill Faculty of Law in Montreal, Quebec. See also: Why We Demand an Unconditional Basic Income: the ECSO Freedom Case and Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive

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Writing Is Thinking #

But you’re not a writer, so this isn’t your problem, right? Well, the thing is, writing is not some mystic art. It’s a practical skill—particularly since most of our online communication is text-based to begin with. When you write about your work, it makes all of us smarter for the effort, including you—because it forces you to go beyond the polite cocktail-party line you use to describe what you do and really think about the impact your work has.

Done well, it means you’re contributing signal, instead of noise.

Clear writing is good web design.

X-rayHTML #

Instead of dropping in a block of markup to render as a demo, then copying and pasting it into a pre/code block, then escaping it—then going back and updating both the rendered code and the escaped code should something change: now you just wrap the code you’re rendering in a div and it generates a copy/pastable source snippet.

Creating Style Guides #

Document the code, markup and visual language of your website design. From A List Apart, which is now open source.

Huginn: System for Building Agents That Perform Automated Tasks for You Online #

…two ravens named Huginn and Muninn sit on Odin’s shoulders. The ravens tell Odin everything they see and hear. Odin sends Huginn and Muninn out at dawn, and the birds fly all over the world before returning at dinner-time. As a result, Odin is kept informed of many events.

Open source. For installation on your own server.

Earth to Mozilla: Come Back to Us #

Excellent article on the state of Mozilla by Doc Searls, one of the authors of World of Ends and The Cluetrain Manifesto.

The Grand Budapest Hotel #

Beautiful, subtly deep and layered film. Highly recommended.

If Moonrise Kingdom was about the 01960–01970s, the Grand Budapest is about the 01930s–01940s. Both speak of the human condition.

There was an elderly woman sitting next to me in the cinema. She was crying as the credits rolled.

A Homage to the Windows XP Wallpaper Image #

Taken in another wine country.

Escape From XP #

Microsoft is changing, thankfully, finally, for the better. I hope.

Years of Living Dangerously #

More of this type of communication is needed for people to wake up. One thing we can do right now is avoid buying things that contain palm oil. More in this story.

Deciphering Django's Class-Based Views #


Everything You Need to Know About the Heartbleed SSL Bug #

Troy Hunt, in a piece which includes advice for sysadmins, developers and people running online services:

There’s a whole range of things that need to fall into place for an attack to have been successful (see the final section of this blog) but nonetheless, it’s going to leave a lot of companies in a very tricky position when they know that both the potential for exploit and the knowledge of how to do it were both out there. Take Yahoo for example – what should they do in light of Mark’s documented example? Force everyone to reset their passwords? Tell customers their data may have been compromised? It’s a very, very dicey situation for them to find themselves in.

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.