Monday, April 27, 2009

How To Win By Not Mattering

This is all about the strange and confusing state of win we see repeatedly today, where a brand or concept gains such control and mindshare that no one even recognizes them as a thing anymore. Few people think of Q-tips as a brand versus just being the name of a thing. Pepsi Co executives probably grind their teeth thinking about movie goers ordering "just a coke" when Pepsi products are prominently and solely for sale. Most Internet Explorer users go beyond not understanding what IE is, they don't even understand what a browser is!

Today, I want to talk about something newer and more specific, and less sure. The direction is visible that Mercurial is being given steps (it is important to phrase it this way, as I'll explain) to not matter, and that is precisely why they will win.

CVS still matters, which is precisely why it has lost so utterly in the imaginary battle for geek mindshare. If you are using CVS, it is important to remember that along the way, because it affects how you work and what you can do. Subversion still matters, but less so, as it stays largely out of your way.

None of the layers in the DVCS arena matter very much, because none of them are very different from the others. Git and Mercurial and Darcs? They all behave similar enough that none of them offer anything different, beyond community and how to deal with failures. Now, Google announces upcoming Mercurial support for Google Code, but the real thing that stood out to me is that they built their own implementation over Bigtable. They are not supporting Mercurial, they are supporting the mercurial format.

It wouldn't be difficult to do the same thing and implement any one of them in any one of the others. I think by next year you'll see git and mercurial doing push/pull between one another.

Note: This was a crappy post and I try to stay away from posting just to post, but I'm getting back into the swing of things. Give me a break, yeah?

Next Post: How To Give Up to Succeed (Maybe public commitments will force me to write, lest I be publically humilated!)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How To Install Google Gears on 64-bit Linux

This is just a quicky tutorial for anyone else hitting the problem I had: installing Google Gears on 64-bit Linux. Google has not released support for this officially, but are apparently working on it and while there have been no official beta releases to try it out, someone posted a 64-bit build on a forum post. This will give you an XPI, the packaging format used by Firefox extensions, but it won't work right away. Firefox needs some special instructions to make a link actually install something and the forum post doesn't include it. There are no obvious ways to tell Firefox, "Install this XPI at this URI," so what are we to do?

It turns out that it will initiate an installation if you select the XPI from the "Open File..." option in the File menu. So, download it locally and then open it in this manner, and you'll restart Firefox with a working Google Gears extension. Enjoy.

I've got to get back to work now. So little time to post these days!
I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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