In Praise

In Praise of Other Peoples Work

Looking back over recent postings there has been a fair bit of snark on these pages. Today I'm countering with a barrage of approbation.

In no particular order, here are the things making my life better at the moment;


I know I'm late to the party here, but thanks to a mention at O'Reilly and a tutorial at Kuro5hin I'm learning to love GNU Screen more and more each day. It truly is the swiss army knife of command line utilities. Allowing me to have a shell, iPython and a couple of database sessions running at the same time is really useful as I'm always switching between them. Not only that but everything is keyboard driven and I found myself more and more avoiding the mouse where it is possible. Not that I don't like my mouse, in fact I praised it only last month but I find that not having to move my hands too much is a great productivity boost.

I don't spend a large amount of time logging into servers and mucking about at the command line but when I do screen is a real help. With the ability to detach and re-attach sessions at will I can just pick up where I left off and don't have to stop and think what I was doing last time I logged on.

The other advantage I get from using screen is having several sessions running in the same window, allowing me to save precious screen real estate. Being a consultant I don't get a 20 inch monitor and I usually have to work on a laptop, saving screen space is therefore a very useful feature of any application I use.

Its even better when you combine it with;


Another insanely good piece of software from the genius behind Quicksilver, Visor is a simple extension to the standard terminal software supplied with Mac OS X. From the home page;

Visor provides a system wide terminal window accessible via a hotkey, much like the consoles found in games such as Quake.

So instead of having to switch between applications to find a terminal window and then typing commands I can just hit Ctrl-F1 and be right there.


I'm presenting at OSDC this week. Thanks to s5 I don't need to worry about having a particular operating system or software version to show my slides. All I need is a computer and a web browser. Simple, direct and to the point, s5 is a great piece of software.

Of course, the other half of my presentation is going to use Bruce so I'm stuck with a particular software dependency, but lets not let circumstances take away from just how good s5 is.

Adobe Lightroom

In preparation for OSDC I've had some business cards printed up. In my defence I'm not there on behalf of my employer so I'm not taking any of their business cards and I wanted to be able to hand over something with my email address when I talk to other attendees.

Anyway, these business cards have a tagline saying "Python, Databases and Photography" so I had better start practicing what I preach and include some photographic mentions on this blog.

Everyone who has a passing interest in photography eventually starts talking about workflow. The process of getting pictures from your camera to a printed form or displayed on the web. I'm no different and have been tinkering with mine ever since I first bought a digital camera in 2002.

With the arrival of Adobe Lightroom I think I've got it cracked.

In combination with Dim to get the photos off my camera and the Gimp for fine editing Lightroom does everything else, and does it very, very well. Its an organiser, raw converter and image adjuster par excellence. Its one of those rare software applications that just works. My experience has been that whenever I've wanted to do something with Lightroom I've gone to what I think is the appropriate menu or control and the solution is there. An immense amount of thought has gone into this application, and it shows. It's only a beta release at the moment but as soon as it goes production I shall be rushing to the shops to buy a copy. Not something I'd ever think to say about other commercial software, especially anything originating from Redwood Shores.

And thats it for now, hopefully I'll be posting from Melbourne later this week and should be full of positive vibes. I expect OSDC this year like last will be full of smart people sharing great ideas, prompting me to make promises to myself to look into things that I won't have time to keep.