Inside 206-105

Existential Pontification and Generalized Abstract Digressions


The Unix ecosystem, in many ways, constitutes a person’s toolbox for hacking away at all sorts of problems, including programming or email or browsing. Topics about the toolbox and about sharpening the saw.

How to maintain a pristine copy of your configuration files

etckeeper is a pretty good tool for keeping your /etc under version control, but one thing that it won’t tell you is what the diff between your configuration and a pristine version of your configuration (if you installed the same packages on the system, but didn’t change any configuration). People have wanted this, but I […]

Xmonad and media keys on Saucy

Ubuntu continues on its rampage of breaking perfectly good software, and on my most recent upgrade to Saucy Salamander, I discovered to my dismay that my media keys (e.g. volume keys, fn (function) keys, suspend button, etc) had stopped working. Of course, it worked fine if I logged into my user using Unity, but who […]

Kindle is not good for textbooks

Having attempted to read a few textbooks on my Kindle, I have solemnly concluded that the Kindle is in fact a terrible device for reading textbooks. The fundamental problem is that, due to technological limitations, the Kindle is optimized for sequential reading. This can be seen in many aspects: Flipping a page in the Kindle […]

Kindle Paperwhite notes

Along with a Nexus 7, I also acquired a Kindle Paperwhite over winter break. (Wi-Fi only) I have been quite pleased by this purchase, though in an unexpected way: while I have not increased the number of books I read, the Kindle has materially changed how I read articles on the Internet. Not via their […]

Google Nexus 7 setup notes

I acquired a Google Nexus 7 (Wi-Fi only) over winter break. I don’t really like getting new devices: they invariably require a lot of work to setup to my liking. Here are some notes: Jailbreaking the device from Linux is still fiddly. Ultimately, it’s probably easiest to just find a Windows box and use the […]

Maildir synchronizing Sup

On the prompting of Steven Hum, I've put some finishing touches on my Sup patchset and am “releasing” it to the world (more on what I mean by “release” shortly.) The overall theme of this patchset is that it integrates as much Sup metadata it can with Maildir data. In particular: It merges Damien Leone’s […]

Ubuntu Quantal upgrade (Thinkpad/Xmonad)

October has come, and with it, another Ubuntu release (12.10). I finally gave in and reinstalled my system as 64-bit land (so long 32-bit), mostly because graphics were broken on my upgraded system. As far as I could tell, lightdm was dying immediately after starting up, and I couldn't tell where in my copious configuration […]

So you want to hack on IMAP…

(Last IMAP themed post for a while, I promise!) Well, first off, you’re horribly misinformed: you do not actually want to hack on IMAP. But supposing, for some masochistic reason, you need to dig in the guts of your mail synchronizer and fix a bug or add some features. There are a few useful things […]

OfflineIMAP sucks

I am going to share a dirty little secret with you, a secret that only someone who uses and hacks on OfflineIMAP could reasonably know: OfflineIMAP sucks. Of course, you can still use software that sucks (I do all the time), but it’s useful to know what some of its deficiencies are, so that you […]

How OfflineIMAP works

As software engineers, we are trained to be a little distrustful of marketing copy like this: OfflineIMAP is SAFE; it uses an algorithm designed to prevent mail loss at all costs. Because of the design of this algorithm, even programming errors should not result in loss of mail. I am so confident in the algorithm […]