Monthly Archives: April 2006

United 93

When I first heard about the “United 93 movie”: I had just about the “same reaction as Matthew Haughey”: Hollywood only wants to make some quick cash off of other people’s tragedy. The movie is going to be painful to watch, it won’t be accurate anyway, and it will be full of sappy, exaggerated nonsense meant to pull at our emotions and our wallets.

I probably said about as much to my television. I only watch a couple hours of TV a week, and a significant portion of that is yelling at advertisements or the local news crew.

But then a few things changed:

  • I heard that the desire to make this movie was more driven by the director than executives.

  • Reviews coming in seemed “very positive”:

  • I realized that I couldn’t ignore this movie just because of my overwhelming fear of flying.

  • I remembered that after September 11th, I wanted to make a film about it too. (My story was not a “docu-drama”, but a short animated film with a fantasy spin on real events in New York City.)

Anyway, I saw the movie Friday night. As surprising as it may seem, it is very good. I don’t think I’ll say anymore than that.

Three text editors

I love reading about the setup for other Mac users: what kind of desks, computers, and software they use. The full list of applications usually overlaps quite a bit with my own Dock, but every once in a while there is some new app that I am not using, but should be. And there are always the two killer apps that provide the most insight into how a user works: email and text.

Are they a long-time Mac user who can’t live without BBEdit? Do they use but secretly wish that it was better?

“Dan starts off his post”: with TextMate, which has quickly taken over the Mac Rails community. Despite a rocky 1.0, I gave TextMate a second try with 1.5 and have enjoyed using it. There is some very powerful stuff in it, some of which never clicked for me until I watched “this screencast of snippets in action”:

But I can’t use TextMate for everything. There are three text editors always running on my machine, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon:

  • TextMate: My new default for general-purpose editing, and Ruby on Rails projects.

  • Xcode: Needed for C++ and Objective-C because of the integration with the debugger.

  • BBEdit: Great for batch grep processing and multiple-file diff.

On a whim a few nights ago I tried to use TextMate for editing even C++ and Objective-C. It’s trivial enough to configure Xcode to use TextMate as its default editor (in Xcode, look under Preferences → File Types), and I was happily surprised that you can even run builds from within TextMate out of the box. If you have a TextMate project in the same directory as your Xcode project, the build will just work. If not, you can manually point TextMate to your Xcode project by clicking the “i” icon in the drawer when no files are selected, then add the shell variable TM_XCODE_PROJECT that points to a full path to your project.

Unfortunately I could only keep this setup for one night before I had to abandon it. Without breakpoint support or any integration with the debugger (impossible), it breaks the workflow cycle of testing and fixing bugs quickly.

Happy Easter, and TextDrive to DreamHost

Silly bunny Easter is a time of rebirth and starting over. So today I’m flipping over two new things.

The first, to fulfill a new year’s resolution that died before February. I rearranged my office and drawing desk yesterday to make everything more accessible, and I was doodling last night when this silly little bunny sketch came out. I have a few more drawings and pieces of animation in various states of completion that I’d like to post too, but I’m not going to let the backlog of “finishing” anything stop me from posting now on a weekly basis. Really.

Secondly, I made a long-overdue server change this weekend. About a year ago I gave up self-hosting on an old Linux box and moved this site and email to TextDrive. I had high hopes. It was run by smart people with good ideas, and it was officially endorsed by the Ruby on Rails project.

Unfortunately the server I was hosted on (Bidwell) was down much too frequently. I couldn’t help comparing it to the near-flawless uptime I had running my own box on a static DSL address. Lots of little problems and broken promises added to the overall frustration. And running underneath the whole mess was an undercurrent of unprofessionalism. I gave them a year to sort it out and it never got better.

Which is too bad, because there was a lot of potential there. I still wish them good luck, and especially to the Joyent team as well.

Today my site is live on DreamHost. I’ve had mostly good experiences using DreamHost to manage the STAPLE! web site in the last two years. Here’s hoping I won’t have to switch again anytime soon.

(Want to try DreamHost? Use coupon code MANTON40 to get $40 off.)