I usually work on Free things. "Free" doesn't just mean
zero cost; it means the freedom to copy, to share, to modify
and redistribute without arbitrary restrictions. For more
details, see this article on the surprising history of copyright
and the promise of a post-copyright world. Share the
article with anyone — it's Free.
Are you having trouble sending me email? If I failed to
respond to your message, it may be that it simply got lost
in all the spam (or, perhaps, that my spam filters accidentally ate it).
Click here to find out how to
send me a message that will get through my spam filters and
Fediverse: @firstname.lastname@example.org · Blog (old school): rants.org · Blog (via Fediverse): @email@example.com
Time passed since I gratuitously copied this cool
timer from Daniel Stenberg (who used it to time the 937 days it took
for the U.S. government to issue him a visa — I
cannot explain why our government denied Daniel permission
to enter the U.S. for so long):
00 days, 00 hours,
00 minutes and 00 seconds
The Promise of a Post-Copyright World
An article about the history and future of copyright.
Producing Open Source Software:
How to Run a Successful Free Software Project
A book about how open source projects work. Available commercially
in a print edition from the publisher, O'Reilly Media; also available
online and freely licensed at producingoss.com.
Chapter 21 of the book Beautiful Teams:
Inspiring and Cautionary Tales from Veteran Team Leaders,
published by O'Reilly Media. This chapter is released under a free
license (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0). You can purchase the
entire book from
O'Reilly or in book stores.
Dissecting The Myth That Open Source Software Is Not Commercial
A 2016 article for for the IEEE Software blog, examining the origins
of the prevalent (but mistaken) belief that open source software is
Subversion's Delta Editor: Interface as Ontology
Chapter 2 of the book Beautiful
Code: Leading Programmers Explain How They Think, published by
O'Reilly Media. This chapter is released under a free license
(Creative Commons Attribution 3.0). You can purchase the entire
O'Reilly or in book stores.
What Is Free Software?
An article explaining the free software movement.
Why Audio Format Matters
An article aimed at audio producers, advocating free
audio formats like Ogg Vorbis, instead of non-free,
patent-encumbered ones like MP3. See also https://playogg.org/.
Privacy Apps Like Snapchat Make a Promise They Can't Keep
A piece for the Future Tense series (of Slate.com and
the New America Foundation), about why apps that claim you can
send "self-deleting" messages and data to other people are making
a promise they can't keep.
Burn In 1: How I Got Into Computers
Title says it all. This is part of Nat
Torkington's Burn In series.
Open Source Development With CVS
A book about using CVS in open source projects. Available commercially
in a print edition from the publisher, Paraglyph Press; also
available online and freely licensed at cvsbook.red-bean.com.
5 Not-So-Easy Questions
Interview (with Jurgen Appelo of noop.nl).
My blog. You remember what blogs are, right?
Open Source Projects
Various OTS projects (also some here)
Open source projects that we work on at Open Tech Strategies, LLC.
I don't get to write code as often as I used to; my involvement in
these projects is more... uh, spiritual than technical these
days. Sic transit gloria techie.
These I do get to work on, happily. These are utilities
we use to make life easier at OTS, all published as free software.
The ones I hack on the most often are:
- find-dups: Find duplicate files within a directory tree.
- dmgrep: Like grep, but prints delimited blocks,
instead of lines, as the output. Very
useful when you're looking through, say,
git log output and want your
search results to be full commits instead of
- opass: A system for managing shared secrets among
- oref: A system for putting quick, lightweight,
easy-to-navigate cross-references in plaintext documents.
But there are many others in there. Your Mileage May Vary. Enjoy.
Our document production environment at OTS (LaTeX-based).
Tools we use for plaintext-based bookkeeping.
A command-line tool for putting text on an image in that meme-y way.
LabelNation is a free software command-line tool for making
address labels, business cards, or anything else involving
regularly-arranged rectangles on a printer-ready sheet.
It is written in Python 3.
Modern autofill behavior for email addresses in Emacs.
Yank matches for a regular expression from the kill ring in
Emacs, cycling through the matches one by one.
Dynamic URL completion for Emacs, based on arbitrary
table-of-contents web pages.
A script to convert CVS repository history to ChangeLog format,
in case you still need to do that.
A user-friendly database of classical music on records. Search it
online, or download the raw data files (and code) directly.
Software for printing mailing and return address labels.
Open source encryption software that implements the
algorithm in a moderately user-friendly way.
The world's most extensible text editor. I help maintain the
An Emacs-based editor for genetic sequence data.
A open source centralized version control system.
My .emacs file
No, seriously. My .emacs file is thirty-some years old and over ten thousand lines long. It has been patched by friends and strangers, appeared in a blog post and at least one dissertation, spawned a few Reddit threads, and is listed as a U.N. World Heritage Site. If you're looking for new tricks for your .emacs, check it out. (It descends from Jim Blandy's still-more-ancient .emacs, but I don't think he keeps his online.)
There is no blueprint for this Web site, but the overall plan is
best described by this wonderful quote from architect Eliel
"There must always be an end in view, and the end must not be final."
He was applying that principle to architecture, but it's also
the perfect philosophy for arranging a Web site... or an
I sometimes program computers (but please
don't ask me if I can help you with your computer, because I probably
What's so great about the Internet? Thomas Jefferson said it best in
this 1813 letter to Isaac
"Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the
progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the
fugitive fermentation of an
individual brain, could of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and
stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible
than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the
thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively
possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is
divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the
receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character,
too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses
the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives
instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper
at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should
freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and
mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to
have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she
made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening
their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe,
move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or
Now you've almost reached the end of the page, and I'm running out
of novelties. In a desperate attempt
to change the subject, may I suggest you
visit the Golosá web site, where is to
be found excellent Russian choral music, both folk and liturgical? Or
check out the web pages of some friends: Ben Collins Sussman (who
has a most unusual receipt,
but then so does Kate), Brian
Fitzpatrick, Mike Pilato, Jim Blandy, or Noel Cragg.
(You can send me GnuPG-encrypted
messages using my GPG public key.)