Archive for July 18, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Git Commit Generation Numbers

There’s an interesting discussion of Linus Torvalds’ proposed patch to change Git’s commit object format (via Hacker News):

And I have to say, with six years of git use, I think it’s not a coincidence that the notion of generation numbers has come up several times over the years: I think the lack of them is literally the only real design mistake we have.

Now, if may turn out that we’d want to have some cache for generation numbers in commits that don’t have them, but I absolutely think that that should be a “add-on” rather than anything fundamental. For example, if we just merge the “add generation numbers to the commit object” logic first, then the “cache” case never really needs to care about us generating new commits. They simply won’t need the cache.

The Final Image

Do you remember the final frames of your favorite movies? Check out this post from Mallory McInnis (via Jason Kottke).

The Smart Cover, a Few Months In

Marco Arment:

I can’t think of many situations in which a Smart Cover provides enough protection to be worth carrying and using for people who care about the aesthetic condition of their iPad. I thought I’d be able to ignore my gadget-preservation instincts in this regard, since it’s “only the back”, but I can’t.

It seems my original impression was mistaken. He switched to the WaterField Designs iPad Smart Case. WaterField is great. I use their Laptop SleeveCase and iPad Suede Jacket. (I was not as keen on their Kindle offerings, though, and went with the Timbuk2 Envelope Sleeve.)

Comparing iPhone Text Editors, v4

Since version 3 of my comparison, I’ve added two new apps. Both offer features similar to Notesy, which remains my choice.

Notely adds some extra arrow-key buttons to the keyboard that make it easier to fix typos. It also has the first graphical Dropbox folder chooser that I’ve seen.

WriteRoom has a minimalist interface that favors scrolling and pop-up menus over toolbars; I found that I prefer having the buttons more easily available. It also offers more control over line spacing.

The feature sets of these apps seem to be converging, except that most still don’t help you find search results within a file or offer versions or line rearranging.

Droptext 1.2.1 Elements 1.5.1 Locayta Notes 2.0.1 Nebulous Notes 4.3.1 Notely 1.3 Notesy 2.0.2 PlainText 1.4.1 Simplenote 3.1.4 (Premium) WriteRoom 3.0
Choose Folder on Dropbox Yes No No Yes1 Yes Yes Yes Yes2 Yes
Nested Folders Yes Yes No Yes1 Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Works Offline No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Choose Font No (Helvetica) Yes Yes3 Yes Yes Yes4 No (Georgia) No (Helvetica) Yes
Font Size No Yes Yes3 Yes Yes Yes4 No Yes Yes
Font Color No Yes Yes3 Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
Background Color No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
Multi-File Search No Yes Yes5 No Yes Yes9 Yes Yes Yes
Search Results List No No Yes No No No No No No
Jump Within File No No No No No No No Yes6 No
LF Line Breaks Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sort by Name Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sort by Modified No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No7 Yes
Rearrange Lines No No No No No No No Yes No
Versions No No No No No No No Yes8 No
Price $1 $5 free $2 $2 $5 ads or $5 $20/year $5

1. Rather than syncing everything, Nebulous Notes makes you choose individual files as “auto-saves,” which is a drag.

2. Simplenote seems to be much slower than the other apps at picking up changes from Dropbox. It was often 5 minutes out-of-date, and sometimes hours or days. You can force it to sync, but to do that you have to go to the Simplenote Web site.

3. Locayta Notes is the only app I saw that lets you set font and color options per-file.

4. Notesy lets you set both a variable-width font and a fixed-width font, which is a good compromise between choosing just one and choosing per-file.

5. Locayta Notes does some sort of indexed/prefix search, coupled with auto-correct, which didn’t work well for me. Some words it didn’t find at all. When searching for “cat” it would find lots of useless matches of “at” but totally miss “wildcat”.

6. Simplenote’s results-jumping did not work for me with files containing basic Unicode characters such as é and . The tech support person was not able to tell me which subset of characters to avoid, so the only solution seems to be to stick with ASCII.

7. The option is there, but in my experience the modification dates shown in Simplenote, if I’m using Dropbox, have little relation to when I actually edited the files. The tech support person said this is not the normal behavior and is looking into the matter but has not yet found a solution for me. Even going by the displayed dates, the sorting is sometimes out of order.

8. Simplenote’s versions feature is like the one in Lion and works within the app—very cool.

9. Excellent options for searching by word (Boolean AND), phrase, or regular expression. You can also choose whether to search everything or just the filenames.