November 09, 2002

OS X Terminal Alternatives?

Are there decent alternatives to the Terminal that Apple ships with OS X? Maybe something like PuTTY on Windows?


Because Apple did something very, very, very stupid in the upgrade to Jaguar (OS 10.2). Old versions of Terminal would pop up an "are you sure?" dialog if you ever hit cmd-Q in Terminal. But as of 10.2, it just quits the active terminal and you lose whatever you were working on!


Why, you ask, would I have a habit of hitting cmd-Q? I'm an Emacs user. I often use my TiBook to SSH to remote machines an run Emacs. The cmd key on the TiBook keyboard serves as my "alt" or "meta" key in Emacs.

Don't tell me to remap my keys in Emacs. And don't tell me that my hands will eventually learn not to do that. It's been weeks. The only thing that has kept me from losing tons of important work is that I'm often using screen and emacs.

I'm sick of it. If I can't find a decent alternative (and running XonX is not a decent alternative--it's quite heavy), the TiBook is going to become a fancy MP3 player and not much more.

Apple, what the hell were you thinking? Can I get Terminal 10.1 back somehow? Please? For a company that's fanatical about UI issues, I can't believe this.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:55 AM

November 08, 2002

Who Left Yahoo?

I wasn't going to say anything more, but apparently the story is on now. So I guess the cat's out of the bag. Yahoo's [former] Chief Scientist, Udi Manber, is going to be a VP at some big bookstore. He's one of the smartest people I'll probably every meet.


Good luck, Udi. I'm sure it'll be a fun job.

(Did I ever mention that I was supposed to interview at the day after my interview at Yahoo? It never happened because Yahoo was too cool. Ah, the boom years...)

Posted by jzawodn at 07:54 PM

Best Costume Ever

ballsy_halloween_costume.jpg Just when you think all the good Halloween costumes have been thought of... What a great modification to the traditional preist costume. Thanks to Kasia for the pointer on this one.

Click the image for a larger version. You'll either be very amused or offended. Consider this your warning.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:17 PM

November 07, 2002

URLs Matter. A lot.

Jon's recent piece, "Web namespace design: de facto standards" really resonated with me, and I can almost completely blame it on work. Two separate and very different events transpired recently and both proved his point quite nicely. They're both related to a couple of Yahoo's most popular properties (that's the lingo we use to refer to, where "something" is a property like news, sports, mail, finance, and so on.)

Yahoo News

Like many tech companies before us, we have an internal mailing list that most of our engineers use for marginally work-related discussion. Most of the traffic, however, is generated by rants.

That's healthy. We all have complaints we like to get of our collective chests once in a while. Recently, in a discussion on the quality of the HTML we generate at Yahoo, someone brought up a related issue: our URLs. Why are some of them so long and ugly? Sure, some of them are short and sweet, but others are long and ugly. Very few of them are guessable URLs.

As most of our debates do, it raged for a bit and then degraded. But during the course of discussion, a few important points came up in favor of short, simple, guessable URLs:

  • Short URLs mail better. They don't wrap and break.
  • Short URLs are easy to read over the phone.
  • Short URLs can be memorized when used often enough.
  • Guessable URLs keep the hackers and geeks happy without affecting the 99.9% of normal users at all.

Sure, there are arguments against simple URLs, too. URLs are clicked, not typed. Most users don't care. It's not worth the extra engineering effort to make them short (whatever that means). And so on. But I personally find them all rather weak. They sound like justifications for being lazy.

Yahoo Finance

As you may be aware, we've been talking about changing some of our technology in Yahoo! Finance and using some new-fangled stuff.

In a recent meeting, we got to talking about how some of our URLs will be impacted by these changes. Obviously, we don't want to break URLs, but we may want to phase them out in favor of new ones--kind of like what we've been doing for (much to my chagrin).

We eventually realized that we were contemplating a change to the single most important URLs in the entire world of on-line Finance! Seriously. Everyone in the world (who cares) knows that if you need a sock quote for a ticker, like YHOO, you just need to visit and you're there.

Sure, most people just click and type YHOO in the search box on or :-)

But changing it is still a very big deal. Many, many other web sites link to their own financial information on Yahoo! Finance. Search engines like Google will take you there if you search for a ticker. Desktop applications do it too.

As you'd expect, we're not changing it. Ever. It'd be stupid. There's no reason at all to do it. It's too easy to have our servers honor that URL for eternity.

But the larger discussion around this change dealt with an attempt to better structure the less popular URLs on our site. Many of us were arguing to make the URLs just a bit longer (one character, in most cases) to introduce a bit of a namespace where there isn't an obvious one today. (There is one, but it's not at all obvious unless you know way too much about the folks who run Yahoo Finance.)

The bulk of the argument boiled down to roughly something like this:






That's right. We spent a long, long time arguing about the difference between a slash ('/'), or question mark ('?'). And we argued passionately for our favorites.

#1 is "traditional" Yahoo Finance. Notice many of our links look like that. #2 is "traditional" with an added slash to make it look like there's some semblance of a namespace at work. And #3 is a carry-over from the pages hosted on, like this one.

The Decision

I'm not going to say. Yet. It'll become obvious in the not-too-distant future. But what I'd like to know to satisfy my own curiosity is this: Which one do you prefer? And why?

Later I'll explain my bias and rationale. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 10:50 PM

I've been Consumed

Thanks to Jon for pointing out All Consuming. Here's my blog in their service. Notice, however, that the screen shot is of my home page rather than by blog. I'm not sure why that is.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:37 PM is broken


I'm trying to buy a ticket to Peter Gabriel's "Growing Up" concert at the Comapq Center in San Jose on Dec 15th. But the site is sending me in loops. It keeps making me put in my e-mail address and password. (See the login box at the bottom of the screenshot?) It's quite frustrating. I'd hate to have to like pick up the phone and talk to a human.

I guess I'll try again in the morning. Well, later in the morning.

I went to his Secret World Live concert back in 1993 and really enjoyed it. I'm glad to read that he'll be playing some of his classic stuff as well as tunes from the new album, because I like his old stuff quite a bit more.

Update: Strangely, it worked fine in Mozilla 1.2. Oh, well. At least I've got a ticket to the show now.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:32 AM

November 06, 2002

Here Comes the Rain Again


That's right, it's finally fall in the Bay Area. Looks like the first rain in about 8 months should be here soon.

I guess that means I need to find my umbrella and jacket. And maybe get my wipers fixed (finally).

Posted by jzawodn at 11:40 PM

November 05, 2002


I attended the Silicon Valley Perl Mongers ( meeting tonight. The speaker was David Wheeler, one of the main developers of the Bricolage content management / publishing system. Bricolage was recently reviewed by eWeek and they loved it.

I'd heard a lot of good things about it, but never spent the time to look at it. After the presentation, I'm very impressed. It makes good use of existing technologies (mod_perl, HTML::Mason, PostgreSQL, etc) to build something very impressive.

The sick part is that I found myself wondering if it could be contorted into a sort of MovableType on steroids. I've convinced myself that it could be done with maybe a couple week's of hacking. So I'll put that on the list of "stuff to mess around with after the book is done".

Posted by jzawodn at 10:36 PM

I'm Back (on Google)

Ah, what a difference a few weeks make. I'm once again at the top of the list if you search google for "jeremy". I'm not sure how long it will last this time, so I'll try to enjoy it while I can.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:50 AM

November 04, 2002


One of the coolest people I know at Yahoo! is leaving soon. This bums me out a lot.

Keith blogged a few notable items. First, w.bloggar 3.0 is out now. Improved MT support and other goodies. There's also 101 Things Mozilla can do that IE doesn't--a nice look at some useful (and obscure) browser features.

Derek is having a bad week.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:50 PM