Notebooks (dead wood)

Notebooks

Moleskines were all the rage about six years ago. Whole blogs were, and still are, dedicated to them. Today, still many people carry these little black books.

I too loved these little books, but in the last few years I’ve changed some parameter of my journal every time I needed a new one. I changed the brand, the size, I used soft and hard covers, plain, square or ruled (although, they were always black).

It was a fun experiment, but now I’ve come to a conclusion of what suits my needs best: Leuchtturm 1917

either dotted or plain.

The Master is large enough for keeping full A4 pages. I use it for plannings, sketches, technical stuff etc. Most of the time it sits on my desk and waits to be filled - usually one to two pages per day.

The Medium is just the right size for a journal. It fits easily in almost every bag, is large enough for notes, quotes, thoughts and so on. The smallest format, A6, is also quite nice. But for me, the Medium is simply the best choice.

The following sounds like an advertisement, but the tagline of the Leuchtturm 1917 company is “Details machen den Unterschied” (“Details make all the difference”), I have to include some of their noteworthy details:

  • Ink proof paper - earlier editions of the notebooks used a thinner paper (much like the paper used in Moleskine notebooks), but recent editions use a 80g/qm paper - perfectly suited for a fountain pen.
  • The “Dotted” variant is a nice compromise between plain and square, it’s unobtrusive and still provides enough guidance.
  • Numbers and Index - the pages are numbered and a small index is printed on the first few pages.
  • Detachable sheets - some companies offer notebooks with detachable sheets, sometimes you can rip out half of the notebook. Leuchtturm only has 8 sheets which is more than I ever ripped out of a notebook, so I consider this a plus.
  • Labelling stickers - quite nice for organisation-fanatics, during usage we have the slick plain look of the black notebook we all love, but for archiving purposes there are a few labelling stickers in each notebook package.

Even though we’ve access to email, note-taking applications, the Web etc. almost all the time, I still love the old classy feeling of a notebook and (in my case) a fountain pen.

I’ll end this post with a few links for your reading/tinkering pleasure.

So often is the virgin sheet of paper more real than what one has to say, and so often one regrets having marred it.
— Harold Acton

Challenge Response Spam Filter

The challenge-response spam-filter troubles me lately. If you don’t know it, here is how it works if both parties have a challenge-response spam-filter:

  1. I write an email to someone@domain
  2. The address gets whitelisted on my machine
  3. The receiver doesn’t get my message
  4. I get a message from the receivers mail-server to which I should reply
  5. I reply to the automatic message
  6. The receivers mail-server whitelists my address and delivers my initial mail

So far so good. Three questions pop up:

  • What if the spammer uses my whitelisted email address to send his spam?
  • What if only one of the two has a challenge-response spam-filter?
  • What if spammers start to automatically reply to those messages?

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MacFUSE

You probably heard about MacFUSE (announcement). MacFUSE is an OS X implementation of the popular FUSE project (well known to Linux enthusiasts).

I just found a tech-demo video showing some really interesting features and possibilities of FUSE (of course it’s not limited to MacFUSE).

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Brand new MacBook Pro

Today I’ve got my brand new MacBook Pro, so I thought I share some observations for those who are tempted to buy one too.

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Why Darcs

One of my colleagues keeps asking my why I prefer Darcs over Subversion.

The question isn’t easy to answer. I think it’s mostly because of personal preferences and not because of objective advantages. Anyway I’ll try to explain it in this article.

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The Pragmatic Programmer

Wow, that’s a great book! I own over 80 non-fiction books but only few of them excite me that much. The Pragmatic Programmer from journeyman to master from Andrew Hunt and David Thomas is one of those. It’s stuffed full with practical wisdom and tips you can start using from the moment you read it.

They discuss all relevant topics of programming and software development, starting from text editors, IDEs, code generation, command line versus GUI etc… to estimation, handling requirements and documentation. It’s fantastic and really fun to read, too sad it has only 300 pages.

Usually the quotes on the back-flap of any book should be handled with care, but Ward Cunninghams quote If I’m putting together a project, it’s the authors of this book that I want. … And failing that I’d settle for people who’ve read their book. doesn’t really surprise me after reading just a few chapters.

(The second one equally full of wisdom, but with another focus, is Robert C. Martins Agile Software Development. Principles, Patterns, and Practices. Before buying several books on Design Patterns, Agile Methodologies and Software Development guidelines buy this one.)

Even if these books are from programmers for programmers, they’re extremely well written (meaning they don’t use nested parentheses (like me))!

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
— Benjamin Franklin