Outgrowing the Viewpoint…

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told that life is complex, that there is no black and white, that things are forever gray and mixed.

There is a lot of truth to this viewpoint, and I still like the song from Live’s first album Beauty of Gray. It’s a good reminder to check as many factors as you can, and that the factors involved in weighing choices are rarely simple, especially when there exists a conflict between several held values. It’s also a good reminder that you may have caught someone on a bad day.

And yet…

Eventually choices must be made. One must decide how to act, or decide whether or not to act. Life is full of binary, trinary, and otherwise exclusive solution sets where once made, the results cannot be changed. Even where the choice can be undone (say, taking a wrong turn) it still takes time and effort to correct it and you have forever gone a step down that path. Do I open the door? Do I wait? Do I go left or right? Do I pull the trigger or not?

Most of our lives we don’t live so near the edge where the choices we make cannot be undone, where the consequences are matters of life or death, or financial success or failure. I was reminded today, listening to Roland by the Cruxshadows, that there are areas in life where what we decide from moment to moment matters in both an immediate and grand sense, and ultimately, the palette of options we keep before us gets narrowed down to Do, or Do Not. Whatever the blend of factors going in, however gray and mixed the results will be, our choices in front of us are narrowed to two: black or white.

Choosing which factors have priority and drive the direction of the choice, and which ones are irrelevant is not inherently oversimplifying the situation when a decision must be made to act, or not. There is no inherent good in tracking down nuances if it paralyzes you and keeps you from committing to a course of action – or inaction.

Things I No Longer Use…

Once upon a time I had a killer program from an outfit called Cultured Code called Xyle Scope that made it as painless as possible to see what style sheet settings affected what text and blocks on a web page, making it far, far easier to make web pages look consistent, and figure out what bit of .css code you needed to adjust.

I realized today, when troubleshooting some display issues in Safari, that I hadn’t used Xyle in a while.

The problem is that there are other options that have improved. Not only does Firefox have a killer javascript debugger that I’ve only scratched the surface of, but has a few decent css debugging tools as well (though not as good as Xyle…). I leave even that alone, because now¬†Safari is up to version 4. The web elements inspector under the debug menu is somewhat clunkier in use, but just as useful information wise. The javascript features give me enough info to fix most of my problems without going into a full debugger. The real killer app feature of this though, and why Xyle hasn’t been opened in forever, is that unlike Xyle Scope, the web elements inspector allows me to see the styling and elements of the web page is it is currently rendered, after content has been dynamically modified via javascript, and not just in the initial load state of the basic web code.

Apparently, even the guys who made it agree, as cultured code no longer even links to it off of their front page.

Two apostrophes and a diff later…

Hooookay. Again the geekery, and also dabbing a toe into a subject that if anything, gets geeks even more fired up than the platform wars (Unix/Mac/Windows/Whatever).


One is left wondering how they got themselves into this.

The long and the short is that I saw an article where someone was discussing the power of an ancient, and highly honed text editor in the *nix world called emacs, and how it was again becoming the cool kid on the block. It didn’t hurt that a few days before that I saw one of the guys from Digital Domain at my son’s High School (he was an alumnus there) showing off some of his work – and using a customized emacs editor.

So I took a plunge, tried the different versions, decided that of the commonly available flavors the current “carbon emacs” was the best, but…..

It just wasn’t me. Powerful, yes, and something I’ll need to ramp up on a bit along with vi when editing text remotely on a server, but….

It was too much work to learn a new set of tools.

Which brought me to another quandary, my two preferred sets of tools. TextMate and BBEdit.

Why two? because neither is exactly what I want either.

Textmate is fresher, more customizable, seems to have a better intuitive grasp of languages, and can easily create some truly killer code snippets I can fire off with a few letters and a tab.

On the other hand, it chokes on some of the larger logfiles I have to parse through, the “find” features don’t color code the matching syntax, comparing two files line by line is so utterly painful I go out o my way to open up BBEdit just to do it when I hit that brick wall, and it can be far too aggressively helpful when it comes to single and double quotes.

I don’t really want or need all of BBEdit’s features… I’ve stripped down my TextMate feature set to just what I need as it is….


If it would deal with large files smoothly without beachballing (for minutes even….), and if the file comparison using “diff” gave me results like BBEdit, I’d be a happy camper and forgive the rest of the annoyances.

I’d also like it if the long-promised version 2 that would make use of the then-new 10.5 “Leopard” features would finally, finally come out.