Monthly Archives: May 2010

TaskPaper to html conversion script/A less painful resume updating process

I couldn’t find a TaskPaper-to-html script out there, even though I thought this would have been done a million times by now. (Could be that I’m just getting worse at Googling. Let me know if I’m wrong!) So, I wrote a Perl script to do it:

Usage: perl biglist.taskpaper bigstyle.css

You give it a .taskpaper file and (optionally) a css file, and it’ll generate an html file that’ll contain ul and li elements (you can change the code to use blockquotes and divs, if you want), each set to a class corresponding to the item type – project, task, or note. You can then style those elements and classes in the css file.

TaskPaper is a super simple, yet surprisingly effective application for organizing things into hierarchical lists. It’s intended to be used for to-do lists, but I hadn’t used it for that until yesterday.

For the past couple months, I’ve been mostly using to just jot down, then arrange ideas I had about various projects, which is what I’ve been doing with plain text files for years. The difference between text files and TaskPaper files is that TaskPaper provides formatting for items based on simple cues, like a line starting with a dash or ending with a colon or have a @done “tag” on it. It uses those formatting cues and changes colors and font sizes. It turns out that just doing that makes lists much easier to read and much more attractive. You actually want to look at these lists. That, along with making it very easy, almost unconscious, for the user to format items makes for a rather compelling product, believe it or not.

Anyway, I started using it for my resume. I haven’t touched my resume in a while, but I do remember the maintainability messes I used to have. I’d make the base copy in Word or OpenOffice, fighting it to format it the way I wanted. Then, I’d save it as a PDF to mail to people (because that way I could be sure it displayed the way I intended). More often than not, a recruiter would ask for it to be in doc format, so I’d send the original file. And then sometimes, a web form would ask me to paste in my resume in plain text. So, I’d copy it out of the doc file, paste it into a text editor, see that it looked terrible, then mess with it until it looked right. I’d also make an html version, which I’d have to hand code because the “save as html” features on Word and OpenOffice sucked.

Inevitably, I’d have to update the resume, which meant updating three different versions.

This time, I initially decided to just use TaskPaper to organize my editing, without having to fight Open Office. Soon, though, the idea of using just TaskPaper took hold of me. A .taskpaper file, after all, is just a text file with “- ” and “:” and various @tags in it. So, there’s the text version. I could use a script to convert it to html, then a css file to style it. Then, once I had it open in the browser, I could use the OS X print dialog to save it as a PDF. )

So far, I’m pretty satisfied with the system. I really like that the formatting and content are separated. I’m not dreading the next edit or update. Of course, it does have a big flaw: I assumed that there’d be something out there that’d convert either html+css or a PDF to a Word doc. I was wrong, so I’ve got more research to do. If you happen to know how to handle this, please let me know!

Mexican nightmares

Recently, Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed SB-1070 into law. It requires “law enforcement officers to demand immigration papers from anyone they have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ may be in the country illegally.” Basically, it’s a “if you don’t look white, we can knock you down a few pegs” law.
In response, Robert Rodriguez has made the trailer for his Mexsploitation film Machete into a very special message for Arizona.

(Make sure you watch that trailer. It is FREAKIN’ AWESOME.)

Rodriguez is blatantly (and excellently) provoking the racists that support SB-1070. However, this isn’t the first time this has been done.

A decade and half earlier, the Satanic, human-sacrificing, border crossing, drug dealing, headbangers Brujerìa responded to California governor Pete Wilson’s passage of Proposition 187 with a song titled Raza Odiada. En Español, of course!

Back then, I was looking for the heaviest music possible. With that territory comes a lot of lyrics that really try to make you say “holy shit.” Very little of it did.

Death metal bands espousing the downfall of Christianity was like ranch dressing at a buffet. I tuned it out and listened to just the music. (Which was not necessarily a bad thing.) Black metal bands’ flirtation with Nazism from the safety of their moms’ basements in Norway was just pathetic.

Brujerìa cut through all of that and made me go “Whoa!” (Like a machete!) Fake or not, Satanic Mexican drug dealers were a scary idea to which people weren’t yet numb. It got my attention.

They were novel and impressively crazy which could have been enough, but I liked that they stopped for a bit with Raza Odiada to make a good point in addition to their usual terrorizing. “Quien te va chingar mas no es Satanas,” de hecho.

Campaign advice

If John McCain really wants to avoid getting outflanked by his challenger on the right, JD Hayworth, advocating that US Citizens be denied their Miranda rights isn’t going to cut it. That’s like shooting the spot a target was at a second ago instead of shooting where it will be by the time your bullet travels far enough.

With his disapproval rating at 55%, there’s little room for limp-wristed bumbling like the Mirandizing condemnation or switching stances on immigration.

If you’re reading, John McCain, listen up:
You need to speak out against robot marriage and the ENTIRE robosexual agenda.

Good luck, my friend.