Linkdump for May 28th through June 15th

Sometime between May 28th and June 15th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Why is English so weirdly different from other languages?: No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language.
  • PureText: Have you ever copied some text from a web page, a word document, help, etc., and wanted to paste it as simple text into another application without getting all the formatting from the original source? PureText makes this simple.
  • Let’s Be Real: Americans Are Walking Around With Dirty Anuses: “I find it rather baffling that millions of people are walking around with dirty anuses while thinking they are clean. Toilet paper moves shit, but it doesn’t remove it. You wouldn’t shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?”
  • The Racist History of Portland, the Whitest City in America – The Atlantic: All in all, historians and residents say, Oregon has never been particularly welcoming to minorities. Perhaps that’s why there have never been very many. Portland is the whitest big city in America, with a population that is 72.2 percent white and only 6.3 percent African American.
  • No more ‘product of its time,’ please:I don’t think that we should hide texts with troubling elements. They are part of the literary canon and they have influenced us, for both good and ill. We should definitely be reading them, and we should also be talking about them. A lot.

Microsoft Excel .xls and .xlsx weirdness

I’ve been attempting to troubleshoot some issues with sending Excel files back and forth between my Mac at home and a professor who uses a Mac at home and a Windows PC at school. Even though we’re both using current versions of Excel, and though the files opened fine on her Mac, she was having consistent problems on the Windows machine.

After a few days of back-and-forth and trying to narrow things down, here’s what I’ve come up with.

For some reason, though Excel:mac2008 (hey, that’s how the ‘About’ screen writes the product name, don’t blame me) uses the new XML-based file structure, when saving files, it uses the old standard .xls file extension. Oddly, at least on my machine, it is behaving like this even though Preferences… > Compatibility > Transition > Save files in this format: is set to “Excel Workbook (.xlsx)”.

(And as an aside, why must there be an open workbook to access Excel’s preferences dialog box?)

Current versions of Excel on the Windows side of the fence, however, use (and expect) the .xlsx extension. Same file types, but different extensions, and this causes confusion. When Excel (Windows) sees the .xls extension, it expects a different type of data than it does when opening a document with the .xlsx extension, and it chokes when attempting to open the file.

The solution? Manually change the extension to .xlsx before e-mailing the file.


Ecto for Windows

A few months ago [Alex Hung][1], one of the regulars in the [TypePad User Group][2], [announced][3] that he was working on a Windows-based application for posting to [TypePad][4] and [MovableType][5]-based weblogs that he was calling TypeWriter. Not being a Windows user I didn’t have a lot of use for this, but I watched his progress as he posted updates on his project in the forums.

[1]: “Mineblogging”
[2]: “TypePad User Group”
[3]: “TypeWriter”
[4]: “TypePad”
[5]: “MovableType”

Earlier this week, Alex, [Adriaan Tijsseling][6], and [Joi Ito][7] [jointly announced][8] that they have joined forces, and TypeWriter has now become [Ecto for Windows][9].

[6]: “chaotic intransient prose bursts”
[7]: “Joi Ito’s Web”
[8]: “ecto for Windows”
[9]: “ecto – dev blog”

Congrats to all involved!

(via [Boing Boing][10])

[10]: “Ecto for Windows launches, BoingBoing now a 100% Ecto blog!”

The MovableType/Mac conspiracy…

Another IM conversation, investigating the MovableType/Six Apart/Mac/Apple conspiracy…

> **Me:** i’ve got a [blogger][1] account for a side project of mine, but it’ll probably be moving to [TypePad][2] pretty soon

> **Me**: i can’t _do_ anything on a free Blogger account, and if I’m going to give someone money, I’d rather have it be the [Trotts][3]


> **Phil:** Keep it for testing at any rate, could you? I don’t really know anyone who uses Blogger and has a Mac.

> **Phil:** Other than me.


> **Me:** sure, will do


> **Phil:** The Mac populace seems to prefer [MT][4], interestingly. Except the people at [Forwarding Address: OS X][5].

> **Phil:** Hm…. maybe I could get [Cory Doctorow][6] as a beta tester. That’d be amusing.


> **Me:** i’ve noticed that, actually – been pleasantly surprised at how often Macs get mentioned on TP blogs


> **Phil:** Interesting correlation, really, if you think about it.

> **Phil:** People who use Blogger often go on forums and curse about how unreliable and buggy it is.

> **Phil:** People who use Windows often go on forums and curse about how unreliable and buggy it is.

> **Phil:** People who use MT are often like “Look at this cool trick I can do with my blog!”

> **Phil:** People with Macs are often like “Look at this cool trick I can do with my Mac!”

> **Phil:** Do you see a trend?

> **Phil:** I think maybe Movable Type is the Mac of the blogging world.


> **Me:** i think you just get in a mindset…using computer == dealing with bugs (if you’re on the Windows side)


> **Phil:** Same way with Blogger.

> **Phil:** Using Blogger == dealing with bugs.

> **Phil:** Oh!


> **Me:** [Is Six Apart the New Apple?][7]


> **Phil:** Yeah, I saw that.

> **Phil:** And (using Blogger/using windows) == no help at all from the parent company.

> **Phil:** Well, except the UNIX geeks and developers.


> **Me:** ‘zactly

> **Me:** and us Mac users are spoiled by the “It Just Works” syndrome


> **Phil:** True.


> **Me:** MT “just works” – and you never have to deal with the underlying code if you don’t want to

> **Me:** OS X “just works” – and you never have to deal with the terminal if you don’t want to

> **Me:** but in both cases, if you do want to, a whole world of new toys and possibilities open up


> **Phil:** Hacks, plugins, new applications you’d never even thought of.

> **Phil:** And I could be talking about either one with that last sentence.


> Michael Hanscom: bingo

[1]: “Blogger”

[2]: “TypePad”

[3]: “SixApart”

[4]: “Movable Type”

[5]: “Forwarding Address: OS X”

[6]: “Boing Boing”

[7]: “ Is Six Apart the new Apple?”

I think we’ve got something here!

Playing with Zempt

[Six Log pointed out][1] a desktop MT posting application called [Zempt][2] that I’m checking out right now. Currently it’s Windows-only, but according to their [roadmap][3], Mac support is planned for two or so revisions down the line.

[1]: “MT Resources”
[2]: “Multi-platform posting for Movable Type”
[3]: “Feature Roadmap”

Looks like [Userspace][4] might have some competition down the line! As it stands right now, Zempt looks good for the Windows side of things, and Userspace has my vote for the Mac side of the equation.

[4]: “Software”

[From Usenet: 5.23.96 2300]

[Note: This was originally a post to the `comp.sys.mac.misc` Usenet newsgroup. I’m including it here for completeness. Originally archived [here][1].]

[1]: “Google Groups: comp.sys.mac.misc: Anyone tried NetBSD?/Firewall questions”

Was wondering if anyone had attempted an install of NetBSD on a mac…?
Anyone attempted a firewall system like this…?

I’ve currently got a Performa600cd, which is networked in my apartment to two Win95 machines and a Unix server running FreeBSD. Ethernet connects all the machines, and we’re using TCP/IP to communicate among the various machines (as Win95 apparently doesn’t support AppleTalk).

Problems: Haven’t found a way to get filesharing going yet. The
Winboxes don’t support AppleTalk (which would be easiest on my end), and I haven’t found anything to let my Mac recognize the Winboxes (at least in a filesharing type setup). Currently we’re telnetting/ftp’ing among the boxes to get files back and forth. Works, but a bit of a kludge. Also, haven’t been able to get a completely uesable proxy/firewall system running on the Unix server yet. My roommate found a version of SOCKS to run that Netscape is recognizing without a problem, but few other of my Internet clients recognize SOCKS. The only programs I’ve found that have SOCKS options available are Fetch and Anarchie, neither of which will work outside of our intranet. We’ve also been unable to find proxy setups to put on the FreeBSD-based Unix server, so I can’t configure those options in my programs. End result…Anarchie, Fetch (to a limited degree), Telnet, and Netscape work fine from machine to machine within our apartment, but only Netscape is able to travel outside our apartment. Luckily, Netscape does support E-mail and Usenet, but I’d still much rather be running Newswatcher and Eudora.

Possible solution: Installing NetBSD on my box to let me run Unix, and start figuring how to connect things from there. I’m just unsure how useable/stable the current (1.1) release of NetBSD is, and whether it would be worth the time to experiment with.

Pertinent Info:

* 1 Macintosh Performa600cd w/FPU 20/510 (one 160Mb internal and one 350Mb external) running 7.5.3 (with Open Transport).
* 2 Win95 boxes
* 1 FreeBSD 2.2.1 Unix server
* All machines connected via Ethernet
* Single ppp dialup line to connect to my local ISP via a 28.8 modem connection

Feel free to re: to Usenet, but I’d appreciate it if you’d cc: the message to me (wo…, as I’m none to thrilled with Netscape’s Usenet interface, and have a tendency to ignore it for days at a time ``.

Many thanks ahead of time for any possible help…