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GTD with Python, git, vim, and asciidoc

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I recently detailed the high-level setup of my latest GTD roll out. This follow-up post has a high “geek factor” and contains the details of how I do this using computer automation (Python scripts).

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by PoojanWagh

June 1st, 2009 at 8:19 am

iPhone vs iPod Touch

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Over at CNN: “Microsoft’s Zune HD to debut this fall” – SciTechBlog, John D. Sutter asks why anyone would chose the iPod Touch over the iPhone. I’ll tell you exactly why I bought my wife an iPod touch rather than an iPhone:

  1. Monthly fee: The $70/month the AT&T bill for the iPhone is steep. It’d be worth it if she needed that connectivity…
  2. Tethered mobility: … however, she doesn’t really want connectivity when she’s not around the house. She’s cool with checking email when she gets home.
  3. I’ve heard the iPhone is great device, but not a great phone. Yeah: it’d be more convenient to have the all-in-one portable device platform and phone together. However, I’ve heard from numerous people (none of whom are allegiant to Motorola) that the iPhone isn’t terribly good as a phone. In truth, I never really found out why: call quality, user interface, etc. However, the suboptimality of the phone stuck in my head.
  4. It pretty much runs everything the iPhone does: the iPod touch pretty much runs every app that the iPhone runs, so she’s really not giving up anything.

In fact, I wonder if people tend to by the iPhone because they don’t know how capable the iPod touch is.

Written by PoojanWagh

May 28th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Desktop Computing

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How not to go back in time using git (equivalent of svn revert)

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Update: I recovered my lost commit by following the directions here. In addition, I had to create a branch from this commit using chekcout -b. I then switch to the master branch and merged the temporary branch into master

It has been written posted that git revert is not the same as svn revert. That’s true.

However, there have been suggestions that the equivalent is git reset --hard commit. I just did this. It isn’t good. Luckily, I didn’t lose muchany data. However, doing a --hard means that you reset the index back in time, too–not just your working copy.

I’ll admit that I don’t understand git very well. I’m not entirely sure (now that I’ve gone back in time) how to bring myself back to the future.

Essentially git reset means that you want to get rid of changes in your repository: not merely go back in time, see what things looked like, and move forward in time.

Anyway, a safer thing (for me to have done) would be git checkout commit.

The git manual specifically says:


Matches the working tree and index to that of the tree being switched to. Any changes to tracked files in the working tree since commit are lost.

Wonder if I’m too feeble to be MacGyver and need a James Bond. On the other hand, now that I’ve learned this lesson, maybe I’m better off sticking here.

Written by PoojanWagh

May 18th, 2009 at 10:12 am

Posted in Desktop Computing

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Picture-by-Picture: Setting up Mercurial with WikidPad

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I’m personally using Git to version-control my WikidPad files. However, Mercurial (and especially TortoiseHg) is equally well suited for this function. In many respects, Mercurial is simpler to use than Git. The only shortcoming I had with Mercurial is that there’s no managed branches; to branch, you create an independent copy of the whole repository (clone it).

Nonetheless, for most people, Mercurial will not only suffice but give quicker rewards than Git.

I don’t use Subversion for this purpose, because subversion has a centralized approach which requires a repository, separate from a working copy. Importing, merging, branching, etc., with subversion is a bit of a hassle. This “hassle”, of course, is purely personal taste; others will (strongly) disagree. In fact, for many other purposes, I strongly prefer Subversion to Mercurial/Git/etc.


By the time you’re done with the following steps, you should be able to:

  1. Place a WikidPad Wiki under version control
  2. Commit changes as files change
  3. Revert to prior versions Read the rest of this entry »

Written by PoojanWagh

October 21st, 2008 at 12:34 am

Setting up Pidgin for Google Talk behind an http proxy (web proxy / corporate firewall)

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I use Google Talk at work mainly to post to social networks (army.twit.tv, identi.ca, twitter.com, yammer.com). It is possible to receive notification using Google Talk (which is just a Jabber/XMPP instance), but I find that too intrusive to what little work I get done.

  1. Run pidgin (if not already) and select Accounts->Manage

  2. Select Add to add another account:

  3. Select XMPP for the protocol type:

  4. Fill out the form as follows with gmail/gtalk username & password; domain is gmail.com; Resource is (optionally) Work:

  5. Click advanced button. Select old (port 5223) SSL. Select 443 for port number. Server is talk.google.com. Fill out http proxy (for example, wwwgate0.example.com, port 1080) & http-proxy username & password (not likely the same as your gmail username/password):

This works because http proxies generally allow ports 80 (http) and port 443 (SSL/https) through. They generally disallow other ports. Luckily, google’s jabber server (talk.google.com) accepts connections on port 443–and they are SSL (encrypted) connections, so that’s good, too.

Written by PoojanWagh

October 13th, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Useful Firefox extensions versus Google Chrome without RSS

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Just for kicks, I’ve been brainstorming whether I can replace FireFox with Google Chrome.

The answer is no, but more accurately, almost. I’ve made a list of FireFox extensions that I live by. Namely: Read the rest of this entry »

No Firefox-style extensions for Chrome (for a while)

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I was quite excited to adopt Google Chrome as my primary browser. Immediately, I missed the “Read it Later” extension. I looked into whether an extension communicty had sprung up yet. (Who knows; there are apparently themes available already.) Unfortunately, I found the following in the Chromium (the open-source group formed to develop Chrome) FAQ:

FAQ Chromium Developer Documentation:

Q. How can I develop extensions for Chromium like in Firefox?

A. Chromium doesn’t have an extension system yet. This is something we’re interested in adding in a future version. Note that Chromium does support NPAPI-style “plugins”, such as Adobe Flash and Apple QuickTime.

Unfortunately, this is a deal-breaker for me (and likely for a lot of people). Guess I’ll have to be patient.

Written by PoojanWagh

September 9th, 2008 at 5:33 am

Posted in Desktop Computing

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Details

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From Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Details:

Runs Intel Atom N270 & Intel GMA 950.

$350 for Ubuntu 8.04 w/ 4 GB SSD.

$400 for XP Home w/ 8 GB SSD

$450 for XP Home w/ 16 GB SSD

Written by PoojanWagh

September 8th, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Desktop Computing

One way Microsoft could resuscitate Windows

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I said in a previous post that I didn’t dislike the Gates/Seinfeld Churro Ad. That (and the recent TWiT discussion about it and cloud computing) got me thinking about what Microsoft could do to resuscitate themselves.

It seems to me that Apple presents itself as the creative platform. Microsoft, on the other hand seems to be the business platform. What do business users care about? Productivity. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by PoojanWagh

September 8th, 2008 at 10:04 am

Posted in Desktop Computing

WikidPad on multiple computers synced with Git

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There was  apost over at wikidpad-devel | Google Groups, where someone talked about using Drop Box to sync WikidPad databases. The person used the original_sqlite database format of WikidPad.

I personally like the “Original SQLite” format for storage. This internal database has the following properties:

The data for your wiki is stored in plain text under the data
directory of the directory your Wiki config is stored in. There is one
file per wiki word. The database to index the wiki is stored in the
file “wikiovw.sli”.

Which is great, because I get all the features of SQLite search/indexing, but all my pages are in a text format.

The great thing about this setup is that I can use version-control to keep them in sync. I originally thought about using SubVersion. However, I decided to go with a distributed version control system instead. I took a hard look at both Mercurial and Git. I decided on Git since it does implicit renames rather than explicit renames. This means that I don’t have to write any hooks in WikidPad for when there is a rename/copy of a page. Of course, I could do without this feature in Mercurial, and it would still work. It’s just nice that Git does provide the benefit of diff-based storage without the need for explicit copies/renames/moves.

So, I keep two WikidPad notebooks going: a Work one, and a Personal one. The Personal one is on all the computers at home (Windows Laptop, Windows Desktop, FreeBSD server). It is also on a USB thumb drive. One of the features of git is that the entire repository comes along with a working copy. Let’s say I’m editing a WikidPad page at home that I already edited on another computer. I don’t have to worry about syncing. I can check in both changesets and merge later. This is a feature that Mercurial also has.

That’s the great thing about text files: they work very well with version-control systems.

I also use the ScrapBook extension from Firefox to archive/annotate pages from the web. The extension saves an index of the pages in RDF format. RDF is a form of XML, which was touted as a better way to save data because it is text-based. Curiously, XML doesn’t work well with any merge tool I’ve come across. I’ll post about my descent down this rat-hole (and how I got around it) later.

Written by PoojanWagh

September 5th, 2008 at 5:31 am