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.

Window throwing in OS X and Ubuntu

When I first switched from OS X to Ubuntu for my daily development work, one of the things I missed a lot was Divvy.

"Window throwing" is the purpose of Divvy (and Spectacle, which I later replaced it with). With a single keyboard shortcut, I can make the foreground window fill the right half of the screen. Or the left half. Or the bottom right quadrant. Or the whole screen. Any rectangle I care to define. I can even send it to the other monitor.

Once I had gotten used to this power, I was hooked. Manual resizing and repositioning of windows with the mouse felt fiddly and inexact. Like trying to align icons on your desktop by eye. Bother.

On Linux I hunted around for a while before finding out that the Compiz system has a Grid plugin for this sort of thing. Divvy's window size/position options are more granular, but Compiz gets it done.

Then, probably a year later I discovered the solution I currently use in Ubuntu: Unity actually has built-in keyboard shortcuts for window placement. They use the numeric keypad and they go like this:

Look at the layout of the keypad and you'll see these are their own perfect mnemonics.

One final note: anybody who has ever used a tiling window manager like Xmonad is familiar with the pleasure of instant and exact window control via keyboard. I use Xmonad as well and love it. (I just had to mention this because if I didn't, somebody would be like DO YOU EVEN XMONAD DUDE)

Friday, April 29th, 2016
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