The saga of my troubled PowerBook G4
continues: Apple kindly sent me a new battery, in case my machine’s inability
to recharge was due to the battery. Turns out, it isn’t, so the problem is
with the logic board (this is the replacement logic board, remember;
the first one broke after five days and suddenly stopped displaying video).
Naturally, 667MHz PowerBook logic boards are in short supply, so they can’t
provide me with an estimated repair time. I was hesitant about sending my
now-primary computer off for an unknown length of time, so they offered to send
me the box for shipping the computer back to them and then inform me when a
supply of logic boards came in. (We also discussed the possibility of taking it
to a local authorized repair shop, but their most likely course of action would
be… mail it to Apple, so we figured I might as well cut out the middleman.)
In terms of problems which aren’t Apple’s fault (mostly), I’ve discovered that
my wristwatch is the most likely reason the finish is scraping off the left side of
the base. To be honest, I’m surprised the finish is scraping off at all: I didn’t
think the TiBook had finish. It looks so metallic, I just assumed that was
it’s natural color. Naïve of me, I suppose.
In the interests of fairness, I’ll emphasize once again that Apple’s people have
been very helpful and that I’m quite happy with the PowerBook G4 itself (aside
from the various glitches and the lack of a forward-delete key).
About the “#”s
You’ve probably noticed the “#” links which appearing in ZedneWeb this month,
and you’ve possibly wondered what exactly they’re for. The answer is: Granularity.
Aren’t you glad you asked?
Seriously, though, as ZedneWeb has moved in a weblog-like direction over the
years, these entries have gotten longer and started involving multiple topics.
For a while, I used bold text to simulate section headings, but in
October 2001, I started
using real heading elements to separate topics (the reason I delayed doing that
is because the headings are second-level in the individual archive pages,
but third-level on the front page, and it took me a while to sit down and
make my back-end software capable of working that out).
This provided visual separation for readers, but it didn’t allow people
to refer to specific sections. For example, the January 5 entry discusses
CD copy-protection, digital identity
standards, two geeky charts, weblogs in comparison to Journalism, and the
recent Lord of the Rings movie. If I or someone else wanted to
direct someone to a specific section, we’d have to link to the whole page
and hope that the reader would find the part we’re referring to.
Fortunately, there’s a way around that, too. In February, I started enclosing each section in
a “div” element with an “id” attribute. The id gives the div a name which can
be used to refer to it specifically, rather than the entire page. For example,
this section has the id “numbersigns” and is part of the archive at
<http://www.eyrie.org/~zednenem/2002/03/28/>. That means you can refer to this
section as <http://www.eyrie.org/~zednenem/2002/03/28/#numbersigns>. The “#”
separates the id from the rest of the address.
I quickly realized that simply assigning names wasn’t enough, unless I
expected my readers to look at the source code. I looked around at weblogs
to see if I could find a way of indicating the addresses without being too
obtrusive. Eventually, I decided that a short link at the end of the section
would be enough, and I decided to use a “#” because it’s reminiscent of the
“#” which appears in the addresses. (Other possibilities included a bunch of
colons (“:::”) or the word “Permalink”.)
To summarize, then, the purpose of the “#” links at the end of sections
are to provide an easy way for readers to determine the address of that
section. They’re at the end to make them relatively unobtrusive.
I have specific reasons for using divs instead of the more common
“a”-element-with-name method, but I imagine that no one has read this far, so I
won’t go into it.
Pages for printing
recently gave some advice for creating print versions of pages.
Many on-line newspapers and magazines provide two versions of their articles,
one with all the usual navigation bars and images and such, and a simpler one
intended for printing out. The idea being that people don’t want to spend lots of
ink on tables of links that have no relevance on the printed page.
Making things easy for people printing things out is a good idea, but
having two versions of each story is not necessarily the optimum way of
doing things (unless, like Salon, you break
your stories into multiple pages on-line but combine them onto a single
page for printing). A List Apart,
for example, has managed to provide a single page for reading on-line and printing.
Since I wrote my previous
piece, Dan Gillmor has written an accessible explanation of why
the expansion of
copyright power is bad for Americans (and, presumably, the rest of the world
as well, although they aren’t officially subject to American copyright law).
Regarding the well-disliked DMCA,
As prescient critics warned, the law has been abused by the entertainment crowd
and its craven allies in the technology business to threaten scholars, curb free
speech and even incite outrageous prosecutions.
We’ve already had foreign computer researchers jailed for writing software
in other countries, professors refuse to publish
out of fear of being sued, and judges rule that linking to sites can be
illegal. How much more unbalanced can this get? Some people are
to fight back, but I don’t hold out much hope. It’s real easy to point out
that millions of people are listening to music they got for free; it’s harder to
argue about abstractions like the public good—particularly without millions of dollars
in campaign contributions.
Salon has a recent
article about GnuPG, which is a
free version of PGP that
has become popular since Network Associates dropped the product.
PGP provides a simple system
for encrypting and digitally signing files, such as e-mail messages. What sets
it apart from other public-key systems (which allow you to send a message that
only the recipient can decode without first having to exchange a secret key) is
its decentralized “web of trust”. Rather than having a central authority hand out
keys and assure people that the people holding the keys are who they claim to be,
PGP operates by letting people
vouch for each other. If I know you, then I can sign your key, indicating that I
believe you’re the person using it. Someone else who doesn’t know you but does
know me might then choose to believe your identity because I vouched for you.
What’s neat about the web of trust, is that it doesn’t require a single
certifying agency, but it allows for them. A certificate authority is just
another person whose recommendations you trust.
is a free software replacement maintained by the GNU
organization. For some reason, their site doesn’t mention the
project, which is working on a Mac OS X version.