Theresa O’Connor

Geek from A to Z

Just about every new social website has some kind of profile in which you can list your myriad interests. Here are some examples.

I’m pretty bad at filling such things out, so I run through the alphabet in my head, thinking of interests beginning with each letter and skipping the ones that stump me. I’ve done this several times now, so I thought maybe I should settle on a definitive list and blog it.

I’ll update this if I think of anything for the letters I skipped.

The first decently specified and reasonably standardized syndication format. The publishing protocol should be along shortly as well. Yay!
I think the proliferation of BarCamp is an incredibly positive thing — If you haven’t been to one already, you should try to go to the next one near you (for instance, BarCamp San Diego is coming up). If there isn’t one near you, why don’t you try your hand at planning your own?
Not a company’s office and not a coffee shop, coworking spaces seem to be aiming at the best of both worlds. San Diego doesn’t yet have a coworking space — anybody interested?
It would be hard to come up with something more elegant for building web applications than Django.
Emacs is the only truly habitable computing environment I know of. Well, Emacs+Unix anyway. Speaking of which…
How much I like free Unix distributions is inversly proportional to how much they seem to get in my way when I’m trying to set something up. I dislike most of them. I love FreeBSD.
The Emacs of mail and news readers, which also incidentally runs inside Emacs. I can’t even begin to list the features of Gnus that make it an essential part of how I interface with the world. Use it in tandem with Gmane for maximum mailing list awesomeness.
The browser-visible web is a complex ecosystem of mostly-invalid-HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It’s about time we documented how it all actually works, in the wild, in an interoperably implementable way. I’m (lightly) participating in both the WHATWG and W3C’s HTMLWG, to do what I can to ensure that happens.
The bestest lightweight data interchange format out there.
Easier to write than Python, Common Lisp was my third high-level language (after Basic and Pascal), and my first programming love. Emacs Lisp doesn’t get much love — people think of it as the bastard stepchild of the Lisp world — but I think it’s fantastic.
I’m all for the lowercase semantic web, and microformats are an absolutely key element of it.
I’m so completely sick and tired of having N different username/password combinations everywhere. Keychain is a band-aid over the problem, whereas OpenID manages to solve at least one small part of it.
Easier to read than Common Lisp, Python is a great tool for many, many tasks.
HTTP and webarch are good, good things. Does your web app support Etags?
GNU’s terminal multiplexor galore, screen completely and totally defanged the menace of sudden network loss. Add nethack on to ~/.screenrc for an extra-awesome experience. A similar tool for running daemon processes is Dan Barlow’s excellent detachtty.
Twitter makes IM & SMS public and permanent. Besides, how can you not love a site that makes such extensive use of cat macros?
When I’m not using or can’t use FreeBSD, or for situations which require the Linux kernel, it’s hard to beat Ubuntu. You get the power of apt without all of the insanity and politics of Debian.
Part of my more general interest in heraldry, I think the principles involved in flag composition & design are very relevant in other design contexts, such as design on the web. I even get annoyed when SVG renditions of the Stars and Stripes represent it with red rectangle objects on a white field.
I think the development of WSGI as a common substrate among Python web libraries has had a hugely positive impact on the rise of nice little pieces such as Selector and wsgicollection.
Finally, a truly open and modern IM protocol. But XMPP is about way more than IM — just ask stpeter.