Archived entries for Misc

This is What I Like to Read

Great detail into dealing with a rush of new traffic to Pinboard after Yahoo! announced the Delicious “sunset” (ugh, corporate-speak never gets any easier to swallow).

Server administration scares me.


Language Constructs

I had a very difficult time in my English classes. In fact, there was a period where I simply refused to attempt any writing assignments due to the stress I caused myself. This was the primary reason for many failed classes in high school. Thankfully, I managed to graduate and go on to do much better in college.

It was during 2005 I began programming and a surprising result has been a better appreciation in how the English language is defined and used. Like human languages, programming languages can be broken down into similar constructs of nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. It’s not something I’ve looked into (someday I will), but I find that common devices in modern programming languages can be compared to simplified examples in human languages.

So yesterday, Elizabeth and I were discussing using the phrase “that that” in a sentence and how awkward it sounds in conversation, even though it’s grammatically valid. When writing, I normally try to substitute “which” for the latter “that” (I’m usually not deft enough to do the same in conversation). The unintended side effect though, is the substitution can end up making the sentence read a little too formal and out of character. Most people I know, including myself, rarely use the phrase “that which” in conversation. Not that I judge a good writer by how well their writing mimics conversation, but formalities can interrupt and/or ruin otherwise good prose.

Interested in how this phase functions in a sentence, I looked up the definition of “that”. I learned the first instance of “that” serves as a pronoun, while the second as a conjunction.

Take for instance this conversation:

Speaker One:

Why are you are always disrespectful towards me?

Speaker Two:

I’m not. You’re just not smart enough to know when I’m right.

Speaker One:

See? It is that, that I’m talking about.

The first that, the noun, is referring to Speaker Two’s answer of I’m not. You’re just not smart enough to know when I’m right..

The second that, the conjunction, acts as the clause connector, connecting It is that with I’m talking about.

To help me remember how these constructs work I like to try and relate them to something in the world of programing. It usually helps regardless of if I can find any similarities.

Here what the conversation would look like as a hypothetical javascript program:

= Define our variables upfront =

var pronoun = null;

var conjunction = "that";

var speak = function( message ) {

	alert( message );

/* speakers */
var Ryan = {

	role: "Speaker One",

	speak: speak


var Chris = {

	role: "Speaker Two",

	speak: speak


= Begin the conversation =

/* Ryan defines and speaks his question */

Ryan.question = "Why are you are always disrespectful towards me?";

Ryan.speak( Ryan.question );

/* Chris defines and speaks his answer */

Chris.answer = "I'm not. You're just not smart enough to know when I'm right.";

Chris.speak( Chris.answer );

/* Redefine the pronoun to refer to Chris's answer */

pronoun = Chris.answer; 

/* Now Ryan defines and speaks his response */

Ryan.response = "It's" + pronoun + conjunction + "I'm talking about.";

Ryan.speak( Ryan.response );

To take this comparison even farther, you could find parallels for nouns, adjectives and verbs in the above program.


Each speaker is “typed” as an Object. Not as in “typed on a keyboard”, but as in the speaker’s value is of the Object type. In English, each speaker would be typed as a noun.


A word that describes or modifies a noun is considered an adjective. Similarly, the properties and methods (referred to as members) of an Object can describe and modify that Object. Our speakers each have a role property to describe the part they play in the conversation.


A verb describes an action or occurrence and in the beginning of the above program, the function named speak does just that. Instead of running speak on as a standalone (via speak()), I decided to create a speak member in each speaker and use the standalone speak function as its value. This effectively creates a method (used as Ryan.speak()). Now, each speaker can have its own voice.

The speak function takes one argument, message, which is the value passed into the parenthesis used to execute the function. The function simply calls alert, which creates a little browser notification dialog.

While I didn’t set out to write a introductory to programming, It’s nice to finally write down the way I think about these things. At least I can point to it when my friends want some sort basic understanding of programming, which is never, of course.

Application Shopping

I tend to get stuck in my computing habits during the year. So each December vacation (since last year anyway) I’ve taken to trying out new applications. Here’s the list (so far) for this year:

  • TotalFinder

    Adds tabbing, docking, folders-on-top, and more to OSX’s native

    So far I love it. The docking feature (named “Visor” and not to be confused with their other app of the same name) allows for a Finder window to animate in/out with a hotkey (⌥` by default), or whenever I switch to the Finder app. And with tabs, I don’t have to manage 50 different Finder windows any longer.

    It’s priced reasonably at $15 and has a 14 day trial period. I’m sure I will be buying it.

  • Visor

    I’ve been learning Git lately ( which involves a lot of usage. Like TotalFinder, Visor allows you to dock Terminal to your screen and animate it in/out with a hotkey (^` by default).

    Free and open sourced at

  • XRefresh

    Refresh your page Firefox whenever a file changes. So, I give a path to my working directory (I use MAMP so it’s “/Applcations/MAMP/htdocs”) and whenever a file changes, Firefox simply refreshes. No more toggling back and forth between Textmate and Firefox, constantly hitting ⌘r to refresh the changes just made. Working with 2 monitors makes this even easier since I can have Textmate running on one and Firefox on another. I never have to toggle over to see my changes.

    It is composed of an addon to Firebug and Ruby Cocoa (has a native OSX installer). Start the server via the command line with xrefresh-server, open a new Firefox window and watch with wonderment.

    You can also set it to soft-refresh any css updates to avoid page reloads.

    It’s awesome, free and open sourced at

  • Tower

    Since my Terminal skills (mostly it’s my typing skills) are pretty rough I thought I’d also try a GUI for Git. I use Versions for SVN and Tower has so far proven to be the equivalent for Git.

    It’s currently free and in beta, but it will be priced once they have a solid release. I’m sure I’ll buy it.

  • Alfred

    Billed as a “productivity application for Mac OS X, which aims to save you time in searching your local computer and the web”. And that’s exactly what it is. I’ve used Quicksilver for years, but the original developer ceased updates a log time ago and the community has kept it (mostly) alive (you find a good build at

    I new I’d eventually have to find a replacement and Andy Clarke posted about Alfred this week.

    It’s free and currently in beta. An intersting note on how they plan to make money giving it away for free their FAQ page states [emphasis mine]:

    “We can provide the Alfred core for free thanks to users who support it by purchasing the Powerpack. We also include affiliate codes in Amazon links

    It’s a great model and I’m interested to see it how it scales. I might buy the Powerpack, but I want to get familiar with the Alfred core first.

If anyone has any other recommendations I’d love to hear it.

Picking Apart the DMCA

Super interesting post describing an expert witness’ prepared testimony on the intricacies of DMCA’s anti-circumvention definition.

USA v. Crippen — A Retrospective

Use Good Tools

I was looking for something in the TextMate menu when I noticed the “Daily Tips” item. I enabled it and received the following tip. Waaay geeky but I’m a huge fan.

textmate tip

Copyright © Ryan Fitzer 2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses a modified version of Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.