Roff, Groff, and the Roots of Computer Typesetting

Today we take it for granted that computers can set type, but from the 60s to the 80s, most computers used either teletypes or character-based screens. The Xerox Star and Apple Lisa and Apple Macs, and PostScript changed this, but before them, typesetting was done using weird command languages that would send pages to special typesetters. The most well known setup was troff, which lives on in groff and in Solaris. The troff system used a computer typesetter called a CAT, and it wasn't a bitmap laser printer. It has these fonts that were spools of film that were photographs of letters. The font sizes were created by projecting the image of the letter onto the page at different sizes. I believe the rest of the process was like a photocopier - the toner goes on, and then is transferred to the paper, and fused.

Does software get old and wear out?

This isn't addressed to anyone in particular, but it's a common question: does software get old and wear out. They ask because their computers have gotten slower, or features have stopped working.

Hashcash Anti-Spam

A ten second calculation to deter comment spam. It's an old technique called "hash cash" and has nothing to do with drugs.

Database Libraries versus Database Servers

MySQL on my server is fading out more often than in the past. i wonder what's up.

Expensive Barracuda Anti-Spam Appliance... looks like Spamassassin

This is interesting. These headers are from an email I got. It passed through someone else's Barracuda Networks anti-spam appliance (starting at $700, plus annual fees).

An Idea for More Memorable Identicons

Identicons are those odd graphics you see next to peoples' names in comments. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identicon

Using PHP's ArrayObject to Implement a Primitive Data Tainting System for URI Parameters

[Turns out there's a PECL extension for tainting: http://www.php.net/manual/en/book.taint.php
So this article is already kind of obsolete.]

Comparison Shopping for Toilet Paper, in multiple computer languages.

It's hard to concentrate when you're tired and cranky, so I wasted some time writing a simple calculator in several different languages.

Phone Number to Call that Repeats the Line's Number to You

The telephone number that will tell you the number you're calling from is called an Automatic Number Announcement Circuit, or ANAC.

sales tax deduction

The IRS has a general sales tax deduction calculator. It helps you take the deduction even if you didn't keep receipts!

MS Outlook: Spamassassin Training with MIME Email (.EML) Files

Here's a VBA script that I'm using to train Spamassassin from Outlook. It saves out email messages to a file server where messages are used to train the filter. The problem here is that Outlook doesn't save EML (MIME format) files. You can save messages as text, but lately, spammers have been loading messages with a lot of chaff text that looks like regular email. You can't train with that, because it might cause the filter to start mis-identifying legit email as spam.

Hauppage WinTV-1600 on Linux

I bought this several months back, and finally installed it on the Linux box. It works, sort of. ATSC (HDTV terrestrial broadcast) works fine. FM Radio does not. More info:

Abstraction for Newbies

This post isn't for any specific reason, but it's been bouncing around in my mind for a long time. That higher levels of abstration is a "good thing" is given among experience hackers, people into functional programming, and people who write SQL. At least up to a few years ago, there was some hostility toward increasing abstraction, particularly from the anti-SQL set. I railed about this against and entry in a Symfony book. This is another review of the issue.

MS Outlook: Mass Email VBA Script

This is an outline I'm going to use to fix up a mass email script for Outlook that I'm working on.

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