Michael Weber: Random Bits and Pieces

New York Metropolitan Transport Authority

Did you know?

  • The Big Apple prefers Apple (and so does Irina)! Every other person you see on the streets or in the subway is wearing the iPod's trademark white ear buds (and if not, then perhaps because they exchanged them for Bose TriPort in-ear headphones which are advertised all over NYC.)
  • Otherwise, if you are not carrying a takeaway coffee in one hand and pressing a cell phone against your ear with the other, you are likely a tourist.
  • New Yorkers repair their streets with duct tape?! (Photo proof unfortunately lost.)
  • New Yorkers generally seem to prefer to have too much, and then some more (example courtesy of Katz's Deli).
  • In slightly related news, the number of obese people (and the average age) in New York sharply increases near the Newark Airport (EWR) gate where people are embarking to Fort Lauderdale, FL. In New York City itself I have hardly seen any, and those few looked like tourists.
  • Celebrities we ran into: Two NBA players (gosh, I am not a dwarf but BOY ARE THEY TALL!), Charlie Rose, Barbara Walters, Russel Simmons, and some more who looked all important and I had no clue who they were.

Oh and for a relaxing NYC experience, Yours Truly recommends:

  • Having a stroll through Central Park, preferably during the early evening on a day with nice weather.
  • Playing chess in the Village Chess Shop (Greenwich Village).
  • Stumbling upon some of the oddball art galleries and exhibitions in SoHo.
  • Eating out at a random place after walking through East Village and Lower East Side.
  • Raking a (mini) Karesansui in one of Chinatown's many shops. If you do it with enough determination, be prepared that other customers will be starting a conversation with you... ;)
  • Buying tickets for an (off-)Broadway show from tkts (avoid the waiting queues at Times Square by going to the lesser known office in Lower Manhattan), for example I Love You, You're Perfect... Now Change! (which is hilarious!) Remember to check about shows you might like beforehand. The ticket office provides no information at all, just titles.

p.s.: Many thanks to Greta for hosting us in Manhattan despite PLDI deadline pressure!

GNU PG logo

The MacGPG project provides GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) for MacOS X, along with a reference to quite some useful tools which help integrating it nicely with other applications.

Actually, I switched to the MacPorts gnupg package recently, because I needed IDEA support. To compile it:


$ sudo port install gnupg +idea

In case you don't need IDEA, the MacGPG package works just fine.

Either way, if you install GPG make sure to have a look at the Links section. Especially GPG Keychain Access, GPGMail and ABKey are must-haves.

GNU PG logo

The ABKey plugin provides a nice add-on for Address Book if you are using GPG. When used together with the GPGMail plugin for Apple Mail, it also manages for each contact whether to send email by default signed or encrypted:

ABKey Screen shot

It's always fun to attend an automata theory lecture by Moshe Vardi (at FMCO 2006). Quoth:

Büchi automata — this is something you learned in high school... [audience gasps] well, a good one!

I am still not using Exposé to its fullest, I guess. The leap from ion is quite big, and I don't like that my desktop gets cluttered regularly. I feel that I have to shove around windows with the rodent too much.

With ion, that was simply not an issue, to the point that I did not notice for hours when my mouse was occasionally inoperational (switching between Trackpad and USB mouse after hiberation went wrong in rare circumstances due to driver issues).

In my current working mode, I use Exposé mostly during drag-and-drop operations, when the target window is partly or fully hidden by other windows (start dragging, activate Exposé with F9, move mouse over target window, press Space to select it).

I do not find myself using it to find windows in the desktop mess. For that, I mostly use the Dock, and I hide or iconize windows often. I also use virtual desktops (VirtueDesktops) to counter the mess, but the way the implementation operates irritates me mostly (later more on that).

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