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 #

Wough.

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.

iPhone Battery Life Guide Includes Note for Obsessive-Compulsives #

One thing I found in my Genius Bar experience is that people that are anxious about their iOS device battery life are constantly checking it to see the percentage and how much it has dropped from the last time they checked it. So if you check your device twice as much, simply to check on the battery life, you are essentially halving the time your device will last.

Starting a Django 1.6 Project the Right Way #

Brushing up on current Django best-practices before beginning a new project.

Not a Bug Splat #

Giant art installation targets predator drone operators.

Free Programming Books #

Plenty of Python / Django.

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Don't Hijack Browser Keyboard Shortcuts

I’m talking to you, Blogger.

For example, I was reading this article and pressed Alt-Command-→ to switch to another tab in Firefox. Instead of switching tabs (the expected behavior) the next article in the same site scrolled in, like a big, rude person blocking the doorway in front of you when you want to step outside.

Your site is not the only one in the internet. When you break browser shortcuts you interrupt your visitor.1

Please stop doing this.


  1. An exception may be if your site provides specific functionality such as in a drawing application. Even in this case it is best to provide shortcuts as an option the user has to turn on rather than one that is on by default. 

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Heartbleed: Busy Day for Sysadmins #

More in this HN discussion. See also, Hynek Schlawack’s excellent Hardening Your Web Server’s SSL Cyphers. For an example of how this vulnerability can be used for evil, see Hijacking User Sessions With the Heartbleed Vulnerability.

See also: Troy Hunt’s breakdown.

Min: Tiny CSS Framework #

Perhaps the web technology pendulum is beginning to swing back to simplicity and speed.

Comic Neue #

It’s perfect as a display face, for marking up comments, and writing passive aggressive office memos.

Free for a limited time.

RegExr: Learn, Build, & Test Regular Expressions #

Source code available on GitHub.

Command Line Utility for Generating Books and Exercises Using GitHub/Git and Markdown #

Could be useful for what people call ‘e-learning’ at work.

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Don't Boycott Firefox Because of Brendan Eich

Update: Brendan Eich has stepped down from his role as Mozilla CEO. Bravo. The right thing to do, and this becomes a positive message from Mozilla.

My friend Margo recently put forth the following questions:

Should I give up Firefox? What should I use instead?

The first question regards Mozilla’s current political crisis and whether we should stop using Mozilla’s Firefox web browser because of it. I keep changing my mind about whether Brendan Eich should resign, but lets wait before abandoning the rest of Mozilla, including Firefox. There are a lot of great people working on great things for us all there. Also, the guy wrote JavaScript. Should we stop using it because of limitations in his moral judgment?

Chromium icon.

To answer the second question, an alternative to Firefox is Chromium, the open source code-base for Chrome without Google and Adobe’s added proprietary stuff. Download a stable, ready-to-install build for Macs here.

Another alternative which is also a great way to test a website’s usability is to use the text-only command-line browser Lynx. Here’s how to install it in Linux or OS X (you can find the version of the latest stable release at http://lynx.isc.org/):

mkdir /usr/local/src
cd /usr/local/src
curl -O http://lynx.isc.org/lynx2.8.8/lynx2.8.8.tar.gz
tar -xzvf lynx2.8.8.tar.gz
cd lynx2-8-8
./configure --mandir=/usr/share/man
make
sudo make install

Then, to visit a website:

lynx hypertexthero.com

This is what this article looks like in Lynx:

Chromium icon.

Sticking With Firefox

I use a lot of web browsers for my work and will continue to use Firefox as my main one, for now. This is the beauty of free software. We, the people, can choose.

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Digitizing Photos of Whiteboards Using the Command Line #

1) Make sure you have ImageMagick installed.

2) Save the following somewhere such as ~/code/whiteboardClean.sh and don’t forget to make it executable with chmod +x ~/code/whiteboardClean.sh:

#!/bin/bash
convert $1 -morphology Convolve DoG:15,100,0 -negate -normalize -blur 0x1 -channel RBG -level 60%,91%,0.1 $2

3) Add an alias to the above in your ~/.bashrc:

alias wbclean="~/code/whiteboardClean.sh"

4) To convert photo of a whiteboard to a cleaner diagram of the same you can now do:

cd /location/of/photo.jpg
wbclean photo.jpg diagram.png

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.