E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


Built using Django, served with gunicorn and nginx. The database is SQLite. Hosted on a FreeBSD VPS at Johncompanies.com. Comment-spam protection by Akismet.


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Bitbucket, Debian Linux, Django, Emacs, FreeBSD, Git, jQuery, LaunchBar, macOS, Markdown, Mercurial, Python, S3, SQLite, Sublime Text, xmonad

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At least 237143 pieces of comment spam killed since 2008, mostly via Akismet.

Score one for Dell, sort of

Tonight I had to get some data off a Dell Inspiron 4000 that has a totally screwed up W98ME installation. Rather than struggle again with burning CDs from the broken system, I decided to see how hard it was to get at the hard drive itself.

I didn't have any directions or anything, I just flipped the laptop over and started unscrewing stuff (I've done this since I was a kid, but have gotten a little bit better at putting things back together). My first impression was, "Boy, look at this ugly design. Little bulges and seams everywhere. How inelegant." Somewhere in the middle of that thought, having removed three likely-looking screws, I was pulling on an odd little hatch on the side and, whoosh, there's the hard drive in my hand, mounted on its little sled. A minute later it was in my external FW enclosure and connected to my PowerBook.

I don't even know if this is ultimately a better design (all those hatches and seams make the Inspiron squeaky and floppy -- and how often do you swap out a hard drive?) but at the moment all I could think was, I'm really glad this wasn't an iBook.

Now I can install Ubuntu on it.

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006
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0 comments pending approval
Comment from Growler , 3 days later

Of course, had it been an iBook, or any other mac, you would have just connected a firewire cable between it and some other computer, started it up whilst holding T, and the big shiny laptop would be a big shiny FW-harddisk-enclosure :-)

Comment from Paul , 3 days later

That's an excellent point. I've had occasion to use Target Disk Mode on several dead Apple laptops. However, I still remember the hell of getting at the drive in my old 2400c...

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