Espressing oneself

November 4th, 2001

I simply cannot believe what passes for English from some people. How many times a day do they have to see a word written out properly before they cease mispronouncing it?

So he axed me, why ditn’t I pay for the two expressos for he and I with my Interact?

Do they really not listen to what they are saying? Am I really being pedantic to expect better from people? Are these rhetorical questions starting to annoy you?


when push comes to, well, push.

October 29th, 2001

I don’t know how I could never have heard about these Pushlets.

Every once in a while I do the ego search thing – you know, put your name into Google and see what comes up. I find a lot of neat things – old QuickBASIC and 8086 assembler stuff I did in the late 80s, people talking about my JSRS library, blog references.

I also find the odd Brent Ashley who isn’t me at all. There’s a young university sports star in southern Ontario, a motel owner in Maryland, a beekeeper in the midwest, a producer with Amphetamine Records, a skateboard phenom kid, an alumnus of Southampton University, a high school saxophone soloist in Spokane.

For all the Dave Smiths and Bob Johnsons in the world, it mustn’t be such a weird thing, but for me, it’s way odd to think of running into someone with the same damn name. I remember working in an office with another Brent a few years back and it was crazy, my head snapping back and forth every time his name was called.

I wonder how many of them have found me on the net and thought the same thing.


link 1… perl 1… link1… perl 1

October 24th, 2001

Haven’t linked much lately.

Sam-I-Am :: wow – commandline stuff. i like it
Cam McVey :: what a nice clean design
techno-weenie :: check out that supasite thang. most cool.

I’m messing with PHP/MySql on Win with IIS and Apache and on Linux. Having a blast. Major portability action. I really love this way-cool phpMyAdmin tool for MySql


don’t save me from myself

October 11th, 2001

I use UltraEdit as my source editor. A nice thing they have is a notepad.exe replacement so you can trick unconfigurable programs into using your preferred editor rather than notepad. I rename the original notepad.exe to np.exe and copy the Ultraedit notepad.exe into winnt\system32, start it up, I get UltraEdit – cool. Five seconds later, I try it again and it’s back to notepad. I try this a few times to be sure.

Hmm. Ahh – turn off Norton Antivirus, try again. Within 5 seconds, it does the same thing again. Out of nowhere the file is replaced with the original.

After some investigation, I find there is a copy of the original in system32\dllcache. I delete it, then overwrite. Now Windows pops up with a window saying something to the effect that it can’t find the original to fix this with, please put in the Win2KPro CD. I hit cancel, it warns me that I shouldn’t do this sort of thing.

In the event log, there are a bunch of entries showing how it silently “fixed” notepad.exe. Another where it shows that I overrode the request to get it from CD.

I really wish Windows wouldn’t do this sort of shit without telling me about it.

Reminds me of another pet peeve – the hidden file extensions bullshit. It’s impossible to rename a .txt file to .bat without turning this off, for instance. It’s a feature that has absolutely no value, everyone who has a clue turns it off, yet it’s there “for our own good”, whatever good that is. Although, it is a good indicator of a user’s lack of initiative to find that they have never changed this option or the ridiculous default that opens a new window with each explorer click.

I guess I’m a dyed-in-the-wool commandline nerd type of guy, but I really do think that the computing world’s going to hell in a handbasket mollycoddling users of operating system functionality. I think it behooves computer users to take some responsibility for understanding the tools they use, not to be insulated from both calamity and usefulness at the same time for the sake of letting idiots do a job that idiots should be kept far away from.

Making SQL Server DBA functions easy enough for your floorsweeping staff to do doesn’t mean they will make good DBAs. Adding a graphical interface and wizards to make hard drive partitioning childs play doesn’t add any value, it just lowers the bar for people to assume it’s not a task of any import.

There’s no way on earth, for instance, that a metal stamping or molding company would let an untrained novice operate their machinery – a false move could mean a broken mold, days or weeks of lost production, you name it. Yet the same company will give admin passwords and responsibilities to clerical staff with little or no computer knowledge. Their critical network, servers, etc in the hands of neophytes.

Easy-to-use shouldn’t imply not-worth-understanding.

From a much-forwarded email:

This question was raised on a Philly radio call-in show. Without casting stones, it is a legitimate question. There are two men, both extremely wealthy. One develops relatively cheap software and gives hundreds of millions of dollars to charity. The other sponsors terrorism. That being the case, why is it that the US government has spent more money chasing down Bill Gates over the past ten years than Osama bin Laden?


potential new toy

October 4th, 2001

just what i’ve been waiting for – a Mozilla Javascript Debugger!


with those kinds of friends…

September 25th, 2001

I was watching some debate on current affairs and one of the participants talked of the support that America gave to the Afghans and the Taliban during their war with the USSR. The argument was that America was “on their side” at that time and they should remember that.

America wasn’t supporting the Afghans in their conflict against the Russians. America was feuling them to fight its own enemies, to act as essentially disposable soldiers for its own interests. As soon as they beat the Russians into submission, my understanding is that America by and large turned its attention, support, money, help, compassion elsewhere.

If we’re going to understand these people, their motives, their fury, we’re going to have to allow ourselves to see their perspective, as unflattering as that may be to our own cause.


if it quecks, follow it

September 21st, 2001

Sjoerd and the folks at Q42 are kicking some seriously hairy javascript butt with their chat thang.


beyond prevention, time for cure

September 16th, 2001

Dave Winer hosts an article from Mir Tamim Ansary on Afghanistan which seems to suggest there is the possibility of a reasoned, targeted attack on the evildoers, avoiding unnecessary Afghan civilian casualties, but at the risk of larger numbers of American military casualties.

Both Dave and Doc declare themselves as pacifists. It strikes me that pacifism is a tenet which we have only been able to afford continuously to hold over the last 50 years as citizens of a free and democratic society unthreatened by maniacal regimes. We would not be in this position of enjoying the luxury of peace-maintenance had we not stood down the threats of the past by means of necessary force. There are times and enemies for which there is no chance for negotiation. There have been times when the imminent threat of war has maintained peace where negotiation would have failed.

The time for us to use our pacifist first aid kit has passed. The cancer has set in and is laying in wait. It may well still be in the stage where tactical targeted surgery will remove the danger, but we mustn’t be afraid to admit when serious amputation becomes necessary to return the patient to a stable condition.