6 July 2013

Thatcher’s legacy

In an article from Harper’s Magazine I found the following: “Economics are the method,” Margaret Thatcher told an interviewer in 1981, and “the object is to change the heart and soul.” In some ways, this was the core of Thatcherite governance, the distilled essence of all her Hayek talk and her monetarist schemes for battling inflation. The goals of politicians are ordinarily to win elections, reform this or that, and be done with it — but Thatcher’s aims were always grander. ... Read more

13 June 2013

Ruby vs Python

A small illustration of differing design philosophies. Python design philosophy % python Python 2.7.3 (default, Aug 1 2012, 05:14:39) [GCC 4.6.3] on linux2 Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information. >>> quit Use quit() or Ctrl-D (i.e. EOF) to exit >>> exit Use exit() or Ctrl-D (i.e. EOF) to exit >>> [Ctrl-D] % Notice how it gives you different errors depending on what you type. In other words, it understands exactly what you meant, because it uses that information to tailor the error message — but it nags you anyway. ... Read more

8 June 2013

Architecture sends a message

Architecture sends a message. Pierre Charles L’Enfant understood this back in the 1700s, when he designed the National Mall in Washington DC. Here’s a quote from his biographer: “The entire city was built around the idea that every citizen was equally important,” Berg says. “The Mall was designed as open to all comers, which would have been unheard of in France. It’s a very sort of egalitarian idea.” The democratically-elected Congress was given the prime location, instead of the White House. ... Read more

8 June 2013

Secure instant messaging: a brief guide

So, you’re angry about the NSA logging all your instant messages and phone calls, and want to do something about it? Here’s some info on what you can do. To start off, I assume that your goal is cross-platform secure messaging. That is, solutions which don’t interoperate with other platforms aren’t useful, because not all your friends use the same OS as you. Also not useful is SMS, because not everyone uses their phone for everything. ... Read more

21 May 2013

Google abandons IM openness

There’s been a lot of speculation and misinformation about exactly how far Google is going in abandoning XMPP. I decided to spend a few minutes checking out for sure. I set up Kopete on Linux with a jabber.org account, and tested interoperability with Google Talk (in Gmail) and Google Hangouts (both web and Android). Here’s what I found: You can still receive XMPP messages and accept contact requests in Google Talk. ... Read more

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