recent posts related to technology in general

A collection of Gnuplot examples

I needed to use Gnuplot a little bit over the last few days, mostly to create 2D line charts, and these are my brief notes on how to get started with Gnuplot. If you haven’t used it before, it’s a pretty amazing tool.

Jumping right in ...

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Installing gnuplot

Use MacPorts or Homebrew to install Gnuplot on Mac OS X systems:

port install gnuplot
brew install gnuplot
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Sample data files

My examples use the following 2-column and 4-column data files:

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Why O’Reilly no longer sells books and videos on

Here are some details behind why O’Reilly no longer sells books and videos on

If you’re interested in business, an important part of this is seeing that O’Reilly defines itself as a distributor of knowledge. When you think in terms like that, it’s probably easier to say, “We’re not just a seller of books.” If they defined themselves only as a book-seller, they might be out of business by now.

Donations or micropayments to support professional journalism

I thought it was great that you can donate any dollar amount you want to The Guardian to support professional journalism. I wrote the New York Times and Washington Post and said I don’t read their content enough to justify a subscription, and asked if I could either donate to them or use some form of micropayments, but they both wrote back to say they only offer (more expensive) subscriptions.

Update: Someone wrote on Twitter to note that these are for-profit organizations and therefore they can’t take donations. That’s not true, but even if they didn’t want to accept donations, they could offer micropayments or lower-cost subscriptions for a limited number of page views.

“How much do you think you owe?”

I’m sitting here writing a book on how to write better software using functional programming techniques, then I go to the Boulder Community Hospital website to pay my bill (powered by, and they don’t tell you how much you owe, you’re just supposed to type in how much you think you owe. It’s like calling Kramer on Seinfeld to get a list of movies: “Why don’t you just tell me where you want to see the movie?” *crazy*