Catapult: Command Line for the Web

Internet 2006-10-22 06:18

Catapult is a little project I put together to make a command-line interface for the web. For example, the normal sequence of steps for sending an email through GMail is to double-click your browser icon, then click on the URL bar, then type in “gmail.com”, then wait for it to load, then click “compose” in the upper left corner, and then you can actually start writing the email. With Catapult this is all done in one step: just type “gmail someone@example.com”.

Many other examples are shown on the front page. Contact me if you have any suggestions or comments. This has already proven extremely useful for me (I’ve been using a simplified version of it for some time now), so now I want to see if it can be as useful for others.

Files Are Not For Sharing

Politics, Internet 2006-09-18 05:11

Let this be a lesson to you, kids: files are not for sharing.

The Network Is Finally The Computer

Internet 2006-03-16 06:44

A few years ago, the world of computing looked pretty grim. Everyone was struggling work with an operating system and matching applications that were so poorly designed, unreliable, and virus-ridden as to make it borderline impossible to do anything useful. Even if you didn’t use that particular operating system yourself, others basically required you to use it if you wanted to collaborate with them, due to proprietary document formats. Everything sucked, really bad.

But the worst part was, no one seemed to notice. Everyone just sort of plugged along, fighting to make their computers do anything useful, somehow believing that maybe just one more reboot might deliver them from their misery.

I’m pleased to report, however, that there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re not there yet, but it’s in sight. Although a certain unreliable operating system remains popular, alternatives such as Mac OS X have been gaining ground steadily. Much more importantly, though, is this: the operating system doesn’t matter that much anymore.
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Trusted Sources

Internet 2005-09-29 01:15

As a kid, I read a massive amount of fiction. It was around the age of 10 that I started selecting my own books rather than just taking whatever my parents or teachers gave me. My first trip to the local library in this context was very memorable, and one part in particular stands out. I had selected a book, the first in the Edgar Rice Burroughs series of pulp fiction novels about John Carter of Mars. My mother paused when she saw its cover, which depicted nearly a nearly naked man holding a sword, an almost-as-naked woman cowering nearby, and a four-armed alien menacing them both.

She me asked something like, “Are you sure that’s a book worth reading?” I was taken aback by this. It had never even occurred to me that there would be books not worth reading available in the library. After all, it was the library! I said as much, to which she responded with a chuckle. “Honey,” she said, “just because something is in the library doesn’t mean it’s worth reading.”

Although the book did turn out to be worthwhile, the lesson of that conversation stuck with me. I had simply assumed that, by virtue of its placement in a library - presumably put there by librarians, the ultimate experts on books - it must be good quality reading. But librarians (or whomever makes the purchasing choices) are human, like anyone else. They make mistakes. They have questionable taste. They give in to pressure to carry material which may be popular now but in fact turn out to be just a momentary fad or craze, and which will look silly in historical retrospect.

Today this same lesson is being learned by all of humanity, through a different store of knowledge: the Internet.
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