28 May 2006

Recovering Grammer Snob

I just read June Casagrande's _Grammer Snobs Are Great Big Meanies_ (Penguin, 2006). It's a guide to avoiding common grammatical errors and to dealing with people who think they know more about the English language than they actually do.

The book is awesome: very helpful, and very, very funny. It's only about $14 retail, and worth every bit. I borrowed it from the library, but I'm going to buy a copy. (The book has a website at http://www.grammarsnobs.com/.)

Here are a few notes (to myself) that I jotted down while reading the book.

'correct' (perhaps not unanimously):
preventive (not preventative)
'entitled' for rights/privileges, 'titled' for the name of a book

The _Chicago Manual of Style_ (used for books) recommends using the Oxford comma. The _AP Stylebook_ (used for newspapers [and, arguably, blogs]) recommends omitting the Oxford comma. (The Oxford comma is the second comma in the following sentence: This blog is simultaneously pedagogical, pedantic, and pedestrian.)

Newspapers tend to use _Webster's New World College Dictionary_ (too bad for colleges of the old world), and books tend to use the _Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary_.

A screed is a long discourse. And a cool word.

Use 'which' for nonrestrictve clauses, and 'that' for restrictive clauses:
  1. This blog, which has a silly and misleading title, will be useful and/or interesting to a very small number of readers (on a good day).
  2. The _Best of Blondie_ CD that I bought last night is really bitchin'.
'prurient' means interesting (even lurid). 'purient' (to my dismay) does not appear to be a word at all. (I blame dog food manufacturers.)

24 May 2006

Web 2.0 URLs w/ Apache

(Yes, the term 'Web 2.0' is ridiculously overhyped.)

Let's say you have a Web application which takes two optional GET variables v1 and v2. Let's assume that v1 is always an integer and that v2 is always a character string. We'll also assume that a DirectoryIndex index.php directive has been applied:


And let's say your application has an administrative interface in an 'admin' subdirectory:


Try putting the following in your Apache configuration (this assumes that mod_rewrite is enabled):

RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /somedir
RewriteRule ^admin - [L]
RewriteRule ^(\d+)/([a-z]+)/?$ /somedir/index.php?v1=$1&v2=$2 [L]
RewriteRule ^([a-z]+)/(\d+)/?$ /somedir/index.php?v1=$2&v2=$1 [L]
RewriteRule ^(\d+)/?$ /somedir/index.php?v1=$1 [L]
RewriteRule ^([a-z]+)/?$ /somedir/index.php?v2=$1 [L]

(You could put this in an .htaccess file if your Apache configuration applies an AllowOverride FileInfo directive to this part of your content area.)

You application should now be accessible by any of the following URLs:


The first and second URLs should set both variables, the third URL should set v2 only, the fourth should set v1 only, and the fifth should set neither (the fifth URL should still run the application because of the DirectoryIndex index.php directive).

Of course, it doesn't have to be '27' and 'hello'--it can be '42' and 'foobar', or whatever.

And your admin interfaces should still be accessible as before (the dash in the 'admin' RewriteRule means 'no alteration').

In the example I've used PHP as the hypothetical Web application, but the language doesn't matter--this is all Apache magic. But if you want to test this with some PHP code, try this in index.php:

header('Content-type: text/plain');
$v1 = '';
$v2 = '';

if ( isset($_GET['v1']) && $_GET['v1'] ) {
$v1 = $_GET['v1'];
printf("v1 is %s\n", $_GET['v1']);
else {
printf("v1 not set\n");

if ( isset($_GET['v2']) && $_GET['v2'] ) {
$v2 = $_GET['v2'];
printf("v2 is %s\n", $_GET['v2']);
else {
printf("v2 not set\n");

_X-Men: The Last Stand_

I got to see a preview screening of the new X-Men movie last night. It was awesome. Overall I think I enjoyed the first two films more. I think they tried to do too much and introduce too many characters in this film. But it was still awesome. I even liked Kelsey Grammer as Beast (I didn't think I would).

Make sure you stay until the bitter end. Sit through the credits, and don't leave the theater until the projector turns off.

04 May 2006

Perl programming in joe

I do a lot of Perl programming, and I use joe (Joe's Own Editor). I've defined a few macros that I found pretty useful when scripting. Just add the following macro definitions to your .joerc file (do a text search in .joerc for 'Macros:', and add the lines there-ish):

:def comment filt,"sed -e \'s/^/#/g\'",rtn,tomarkb,markk,prevpos
:def uncomment filt,"sed -e \'s/^#//g\'",rtn,tomarkb,markk,prevpos
:def perltidy bof,markb,eof,markk,filt,"perltidy",rtn,bof,markk

comment ^K 1
uncomment ^K 2
perltidy ^K 3

The first macro comments out a section of text by putting a '#' at the beginning of each line of the section. To use it, just go the the beginning of the section you want to comment out and do 'Ctrl-K b', move to the end of the section and do 'Ctrl-K k', and then do 'Ctrl-1'. It'll comment out those lines, disengage the block (so that the section of text will no longer be highlighted), and return the cursor to the previous position (probably the end of the section of text).

The second macro does just the opposite by uncommenting a section of text.

(You could probably replace the '#' in the macro definitions with a pair of forward slashes for programming in PHP or JavaScript.)

The third macro applies the 'perltidy' program to the entire file (not just a highlighed section). Of course, you'll need perltidy installed for this to work. It's in the Fedora Core extras, and the project home page is http://perltidy.sourceforge.net/.