When
· Naughties
· · 2005
· · · November
· · · · 20 (4 entries)

Regex Update · Back in Au­gust 2004, I wrote a piece com­par­ing Perl and Ja­va regex per­for­mance, ob­serv­ing that, to my sur­prise, ap­par­ent­ly Ja­va was way faster on what I thought was a pret­ty com­mon task. Last mon­th, Ben Til­ly wrote me say­ing that Perl con­scious­ly ac­cept­ed a regex slow­down to route around a patho­log­i­cal case where search time could ex­plode to in­fin­i­ty. I asked him to write it up and promised to point to it, and he has. If you care about this kind of thing, read Ben’s piece and don’t miss the com­ments, which are in­ter­est­ing. Sum­ma­ry: the jury’s still out. See al­so: Open-Source Regex.
 
Sheikh Saad · One of the best ways to stay on top of Mid­dle East news is to read Ha’aretz, an Is­raeli centre-left news­pa­per with a good web site. Right now both of Israel’s lead­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties are turn­ing them­selves in­side out, so it’s a good time to be watch­ing Ha’aretz. This is proof that it’s pos­si­ble to cov­er both sides of the sto­ry in a pas­sion­ate but even-handed voice. Pas­sion as well as fair­ness is nec­es­sary to the cov­er­age, be­cause re­main­ing calm in the face of these events is not sane be­hav­ior. What pro­vokes this lit­tle out­burst to­day is A house in the coun­try, a lit­tle Jerusalem sto­ry that has no vi­o­lence or bru­tal­i­ty or ex­plo­sion­s, just sheer gib­ber­ing in­san­i­ty.
 
UnTiger · I try to stay with the cur­rent up­date of Mac OS X, but the lat­est, “Tiger” AKA 10.4, is pret­ty lame. The two big new things in Tiger were Spot­light (find any­thing on your com­put­er, right now) and Dash­board (hit F12 and there’s a uni­verse of help­ful lit­tle wid­get­s). Ex­cept for, both are too bro­ken to use much. Where I re­al­ly need search is in my email uni­verse; tens of thou­sands of mes­sages oc­cu­py­ing gi­ga­bytes of stor­age stretch­ing back decades, con­sti­tut­ing my aug­ment­ed elec­tron­ic mind. The search in­ter­face in Spot­light is egre­gious­ly stupid; it starts search­ing as you start typ­ing, re­tain­ing all the set­tings from your last search which (in my case at least) are al­most cer­tain­ly wrong, forc­ing you to stab fran­ti­cal­ly at the con­trol but­tons (which don’t ap­pear un­til you’ve start­ed) to point it in the right di­rec­tion. But the worst thing is, it just can’t find emails that I know are there when I search for words that I know are in them. (There is a so­lu­tion: Open a Ter­mi­nal, drill down to the di­rec­to­ry where the mes­sages live, then use grep). And as for Dash­board­... there’s not ac­tu­al­ly much there that’s in­ter­est­ing. The two wid­gets I’ve tried to use are lo­cal weath­er and the air­line flight track­er. On­ly prob­lem is, they give ridicu­lous­ly, id­i­ot­i­cal­ly wrong an­swer­s. And while they’re sit­ting there in the back­ground wait­ing to give the wrong an­swer, they grow steadi­ly, burn­ing mem­o­ry and mak­ing your Mac run slow­er. (There is a so­lu­tion: Open Dash­board, and one by one re­move all the wid­get­s; your Mac will run faster and be no less use­ful.) For­tu­nate­ly, the OS X val­ue proposition—a de­cent Unix with a de­cent UI—remains solid. I’m as­sum­ing that the next big cat will ac­tu­al­ly in­clude some­thing in­ter­est­ing.
 
Web Tracking Snapshot · There are many ser­vices that claim to be “blog search”, but that’s the wrong way to think about it. There are a (very) few oc­ca­sions when I want to go and search for “what’s new on X”, and there are lots of ways to do that (the new Sphere is look­ing good in that space). But what I want to do 24/7, as long as the com­put­er is turned on, is what I call Web Track­ing: be­ing told right away when there’s some­thing new on the Web that I care about. I sub­scribe to a lot of Web Track­ing ser­vices; here­with a snap­shot of my im­pres­sion­s ...
 
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