Ben Hartshorne
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Computers R Us

Yes, I am a geek. It is a know fact. I write code for fun. I have been employed a couple of times doing it too, which is nice, but usually much less fun than doing it on my own.

I have been working on implimenting ideas from on my systems at work. I have written some scripts to facilitate this process.

We use Nagios to watch our cluster and Ganglia to keep tabs on cluster usage. I have written a number of Ganglia scripts to augment the default set of metrics it reports.

In May, 2003, I bought a digital camera. I really have enjoyed it tremendously, but I was frustrated with how difficult it was to keep track of all my photos. Naming them took for ever, and I would inevitably fall too far behind (I still do). But to make the process a little easier, I wrote a collection of scripts to get the photos, organize them, and name them. Finally, they have to go up on the web. I'm still not completely satisfied with the way things work, but you can read more about my camera on its own page.

I have written a few other small programs that are out there and available for the community. Amusingly enough, I don't actually use very many of them (except for the camera stuff above), but other people have found them useful. And it really gives me a kick to get an email from someone who has used and enjoyed something I have written.

For work a while ago (4Q2002) I had to learn how to write documentation in the docbook format. I really enjoyed writing docbook, except that I had to type so many tags so often. That pissed me off a bit, so I wrote a bunch of short functions to get emacs to help me out. I also used the docbook mode you can find (though I don't remember where it is now) for colorization and stuff. Put the contents of my emacs-docbook file into your .emacs config file and try them out!

I like to use gpg to sign and encrypt my email. Get a copy of my gpg key to send me encrypted email. Why do I use GPG? David D. Scribner said it better than I can.

I read Slashdot on a semi-regular basis, though I often get the interesting (to me) news stories elsewhere first. Such is the way of things. I also enjoy reading the User Friendly comic strip, and occasionally Helen too. I swing by fairly often too.

My current machine is an 15" Apple iBook, and I'm very happy with it. I got the iBook when I left the SF Bay Area because I wanted something with a *nix back end that would Just Work™, and I wouldn't have to worry about drivers or compatability or anything. I love Linux, but without a network connection, some things are more difficult than they should be.

To write this web page, I use BBEdit by Bare Bones Software, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Adobe Photoshop. I'm actually really impressed with Dreamweaver; the code it puts out is very clean, and when given a page to edit, it destroys very little of the code. The only problem I had was that it once kept reformatting a poem I had, and that sometimes the CSS doesn't render properly in the editor, which makes it look quite different from the final product. One thing I found that really suprised me (but I really like) is that when editing a file in BBEdit and Dreamweaver at the same time, i.e. it's open in both programs, each time I save the file, the other program automatically updates! No more do I have to worry about hitting 'revert to saved' each time I switch editors.

Panorama making software is an area that still needs work. I am using the software that came with my camera (PanoramaMaker, by ArcSoft), but it does not really make the grade. It's horrendously slow (in the interface as well as the photo crunching) and is very poor in matching difficult photos, and some easy photos. It still does a better job than I can in Photoshop, so I live with it.