A piece of Nathan's rant on mtv.com!

SIMS, berkeley, friends

So an unattributed piece of (SIMS Student) Nathan Good's recent rant on the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy movie has found its way to national media... unfortunately, it's MTV ("Your guide to the 'Hitchhikers' phenomenon and film"):

"Did I miss a meeting where the 'geek is chic' phenom is allowed to cross to the hip-hop world?" rants one fan. "It's as if Mos Def is slumming in geekville. Was the humiliation of playing D&D BY MYSELF not enough for them?"

I encourage you to read the whole rant and to attribute him... maybe this will launch the comedy career we all know he's perfect for!

Disable comments on historical posts in Wordpress/b2evolution via MySQL

blogging, hacks

So, here's a quick chunk of MySQL that you can run in phpMyAdmin's MySQL tab to disable comments on all posts before a certain date:

Update wp_posts
set comment_status = "closed"
where post_date < "2005-04-20";

It's dissapointing that I have to go nuclear on the p2p blog. I'd much rather have a comment/trackback/referrer spam solution in Wordpress as exists in b2evolution. Oh well.

UPDATE [2005-09-11 10:46:20]: You can also use this to shut off trackbacks by changing comment_status above to ping_status.

UPDATE [2005-12-01T11:20:05]: Added a semicolon at the end of the statement above. To do this in b2evolution, you would do something like this:

Update evo_posts
set post_comments = "closed"
where post_issue_date < "2005-10-31 00:00:01";

UPDATE [2007-10-28T10:14:01]: And for newer b2evo distros:

Update evo_posts
set post_comment_status = "closed"
where post_datestart < "2007-10-28";

UPDATE [2012-09-29T08:53:56]: And for even newer b2evo distros (~4.0.5):

Update evo_items__item
set post_comment_status = "closed"
where post_datestart < "2012-09-29";

then, zap all the comments:

DELETE FROM `joehall_nqb2`.`evo_comments` 
WHERE `evo_comments`.`comment_status` = "draft";

Can optical scan ballots hold as many races as punch cards?

elections, reform, vendors, news, research

Kathy (of USCountVotes) brings word that some maldoers in Utah are spreading election FUD.

Specifically, she alleges that lobbyists for Diebold are spreading a rumor that the AutoMark ballot marking device (BMD) cannot accomodate as many contests as their old punch card systems can. Presumably, this is to knock the AutoMark out of the RFP procurement of the upgrade to Utah's election equipment. With the help of a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, I believe this to be wrong.

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Percent (%) sign inserted into URLs using LaTeX's url package


Here I describe a quick hack from this comp.text.tex post (via Google Groups) to ensure that long URLs (longer than 72 characters) in LaTeX's \url{} package don't have an added percent (%) sign.

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Using a Makefile to make LaTeX more usable...

hacks, open source, research, usability

I write papers in LaTeX when I can (usually when writing by myself or with geeks). I like the simplicity of LaTeX and the fact that you can do various complicated things fairly easy. However, I can understand how it seems less-than-usable to most people. For example, for a paper with a bibliography, figures and references you have to type:

latex file.tex
bibtex file
latex file.tex
latex file.tex

That's less-than-ideal but is necessary in LaTeX to match all the references and citations.

However, I recently wrote a large-ish grant proposal with a bunch of CS geeks who used LaTeX for the proposal... however they also used CVS and Makefiles to get the job done even more efficiently!

So, here is a simple Makefile that you can use that makes using LaTeX somewhat easier. To use this, simply copy the file to the directory with your .tex and .bib files (LaTeX and BiBTeX files respectively). Change the name of this file to Makefile and edit the file so that all occurances of the string latex-file are changed to whatever the prefix of your LaTeX file is (I assume that your .bib file has the same prefix). I usually just use make pdf which builds a nice pdf and make clean which deletes all the non-essential auxillary files and such.

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