To put it mildly, I took a long time to finishing a bachelor’s degree. It has been a long road and a strange story in getting to this point and I’m happy to finally have it done.
It was a fun time, Matt is a nice guy and very cool about driving from the bay area to Sacramento.
> Queue Jeopardy music and image of Alex Trebek <
Space, mixed case, slash, backslash, question mark, colon, asterisk, quotation mark and control codes.
What are, things that shouldn’t be in file names?
Okay, all kidding aside, having goofy file names can make life miserable. On most days I move between Mac OS X (HFS+), Windows XP (mostly NTFS, some FAT32), Windows 2003 (NTFS), FreeBSD (UFS/UFS2) and Linux (pick one). Most filesystem interaction falls into two camps: NTFS and Unix like. Sadly they have different limitations on file names, and worse yet they have drastically different social norms for allowed file names.
So here is my list of things that should not appear in file names:
Spaces : Both camps support spaces in file names, but it is generally frowned upon in the Unix camp. Those using NTFS are generally encouraged to use spaces. Including spaces in a file name is a pain because they’ve have to be escaped. Fortunately they are easy enough to spot.
Mixed case : The NTFS camp is case preserving, while the Unix camp is case sensitive. Moving files from Unix to NTFS can be unpleasant if you have to rename several files because they only differ by case. Please just make you life easier an use lower case characters for file names unless you have a compelling reason not to (which there are).
Slash and Backslash : NTFS uses backslash as a directory separator and Unix uses forward slash. Neither of them have any business being used in a file name. You’ve been warned.
Question Mark and Asterisk : Both of these characters are meant to be used as wild cards, not as characters in a file name.
Colon and Vertical Bar : I can understand why these may be tempting to use, but please don’t. Colon is a problem in NTFS and vertical bar is used for pipes.
Quotation Mark (double and single) : Quotes are used for grouping on the command line. These are worse than spaces because there really is no reason to use them in a file name.
Trailing Period : After my recent run in with a trailing period I have a special dislike for them. For Windows systems the last period is usually followed by a three character extension, so having a period as the last character will only confuse things. I’d put leading period in here as well, but the use of that has been long establish in Unix systems for semi-hidden files.
Trailing Space : Like the trailing period, I have a special place in my heart for trailing spaces. This merits a specific mention because detecting that a file name has one is not easy to do visually.
Greater Than and Less Than : Really, why would you do this to your poor sysadmin? These characters are used for redirecting input and output of a program on the command line.
And the worst possible offender:
Control Codes : Most Unix systems are kind enough to allow just about anything in a file name. Unfortunately this means that control codes (except for NULL) are allowed. To do include one of these is just plain evil. I really don’t want to hear the BELL beep as part of the file name. Sure it’s funny once, after that is pure, unrefined annoyance.
When it comes to name your files you should be descriptive, brief and conservative. Ideally this means a simple series of lower case letters, possibly separated by a dash (-) or and underscore(_) that isn’t absurdly long. If you are using Windows then you’ll also include a period followed by three characters that are determined by the type of file you are naming.
By keeping your file names simple and consistent you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.
Tim O’Reilly is pretty excited about it:
Yahoo!’s new Pipes service is a milestone in the history of the internet.
That’s a pretty bold thing for Tim to say. You know this quote will be making the rounds for quite some time and if for some reason Pipes breaks (pun disclaimer here) then people will be reminding him about it.
My gut feeling is that Pipes will likely be a hit. And not just because people will be using it, but because it has raised the bar for others. Bonus points for keeping with the Unix pipes approach and making it easy for non-programmers. Plus, this is something that Google hasn’t done. It sounds lame, but sometimes it felt like Yahoo! was getting stuck in the mud by trying to catch up to Google.
For more discussion on Pipes Jeremy’s announcement links to several blog posts.
Good job guys, now get the pipes cleared up and back on line.
The worst thing about Yahoo! Pipes may be the flood of bad plumbing puns that we’ll be reading for the next few days.
Wondering how Steve Jobs feels about the DRM they are required to include in music from the iTunes Music Store? Wonder no longer: Thoughts on Music by Steve Jobs. There’s some great stuff in there (emphasis mine):
Today’s most popular iPod holds 1000 songs, and research tells us that the average iPod is nearly full. This means that only 22 out of 1000 songs, or under 3% of the music on the average iPod, is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with a DRM. The remaining 97% of the music is unprotected and playable on any player that can play the open formats. Its hard to believe that just 3% of the music on the average iPod is enough to lock users into buying only iPods in the future. And since 97% of the music on the average iPod was not purchased from the iTunes store, iPod users are clearly not locked into the iTunes store to acquire their music.
The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.
In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.
Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free. For Europeans, two and a half of the big four music companies are located right in their backyard. The largest, Universal, is 100% owned by Vivendi, a French company. EMI is a British company, and Sony BMG is 50% owned by Bertelsmann, a German company. Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.
This could be a very big day for the future on online distribution of music. Here’s hoping that Steve is able to pull this off, I’d love to have DRM free music available from the iTunes Music Store.
Time will tell if this is a trend that lasts, or a fad that fades. In the mean time you can disable it if it bothers you.