neat tricks

How to tell if a forwarded email is a hoax

Important warning! Please forward to everyone you know!

I assume that people reading my weblog are pretty tech-savvy. Otherwise, they’d find most of what I write pretty boring. (That’s why no one in my family reads it.) The following advice will look like common sense to most of you, but after getting an email with a subject header of “Fw: FW: Fw: I M P O R T A N T W A R N I NG ! ! ! ! ! !” from a family member today, I thought I’d write this out in case it’s useful to anyone. You can send the URL to anyone who…

Getting started with Subversion

The basics of the popular version control system.

Because the open source Subversion version control system lets you assign fairly arbitrary keywords to resources, I had some ideas a few months ago about combining Subversion with an RDF triple store to track resource metadata. I never learned Subversion properly, though, and recently decided to keep my to-do lists, address book, and notes files in Subversion to get better accustomed to its important commands. Many introductions to Subversion are available, but none were quite what I wanted, so…

Generating a single, globally unique ID

One that's XML-compliant and not too long.

When something has a unique ID, it has identity, and you can do more with it. For example, you can link to it, and you can add metadata to it from anywhere. I wanted to be able to assign a unique ID to something with one or two keystrokes in Emacs. I came up with something that works, although I’m sure there are ways to make it work better.

Download as spreadsheet

A one-line text file tells your web server to send a directory's HTML files as "spreadsheets".

I used to think that a website’s “download as spreadsheet” button triggered some back end process that created a binary Excel spreadsheet on the server and sent that to your browser, much like many “download as PDF” links do. It turns out that it’s much, much simpler than that.