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Matt Thompson
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(Whoops; somehow lost the first paragraph.) Git is software that can take a snapshot of your code (the snapshot is what we call a "git repo") and compare that snapshot to any other snapshots it's taken (sort of like 'Compare documents' in Microsoft Word).

Having the repo makes it a snap to deploy code from your computer to a production server, because you just "clone" the repository to that server. That means that you can make a bunch of changes to the code on your computer, then tell the production server to pull all of those changes from the master repo.

GitHub is a hosting service for your code. It understands the language of git, and lets you store a clone of your repo in the cloud. That lets you 1) deploy from the GitHub server to your production server, 2) enable other folks to view the code and clone it to their own environments, 3) use some additional functionality around the repo, like getting a pretty UI to view all your commits, an easy way to zip your code to send to others, etc.

Apparently git can do a lot of stuff, but I've used it mostly for a very simple deployment workflow. After I cloned the repository first on GitHub and then from GitHub to my production server, deployment for me is now just three steps: 1) commit any changes to the code on my computer ("git commit -a -m 'Description of the snapshot'"), 2) push the new code snapshot from my computer to GitHub (git push), 3) pull the new code snapshot from GitHub to my production server (ssh into production server, then "git pull"). It takes about a minute each time. If it ever got much more complicated, I'd probably investigate using a deployment library like Fabric to manage these tasks.

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What I was saying about Maud Newton's piece this weekend: First off, I really did love it. I have to love a piece that credits DFW with having invented the tone that would ultimately characterize blogs. But I don't at all think that his slangy insertions - the sort ofs, totallys and reallys - are ultimately about anticipating backlash or pleading for likability. She zooms in on these qualifiers that feel ostentatiously overhedged to her and loses sight of what surrounds them - sentences performing rhythmic gymnastics, endless sentences, balanced impossibly on the most fragile of participles, always threatening to collapse into incoherence. A "sort of" in the midst of those sentences isn't usually really a hedge; it's a defocusing - a way to counteract the otherwise distancing precision of his prose. When he uses such a qualifier, it's not [just or especially] that he wants you to like him more, it's that he wants to cross your eyes and let the labyrinth of words blur a little bit, to turn your attention to the sense rather than the sentence. When he describes a character's memory that happened at "fifteen, more like nearly sixteen," he's not apologizing or stepping back, he's summoning something almost-specific, precisely imprecise - nuanced. He's not being insincere, he's being evocative. His writing is lulling, cadent. It's okay that you seem to have missed the predicate of that sentence you just started wandering along. Just keep on following it down that alley; you'll end up somewhere fun.

M.N. starts with Tense Present and ends by saying, "the best way to make an argument is to make it, straightforwardly, honestly, passionately, without regard to whether people will like you afterward." And after hearing that, I wonder if she'd read Tense Present. It's a broadside. Sure, it has qualifiers. Sure, it takes a few self-deprecating pokes at prescriptivists even as it attempts a rousing duel with descriptivism. But he's not backing away from prescriptivism at all. He's fighting for it - earnestly, passionately, honestly, and all of that. There's no "aw-shucks-I-could-be-wrong-here" about his description of Fries' intro to Webster's Third: "so stupid it practically drools." The qualifiers here aren't a hedge, they're a way of introducing nuance. This isn't a Defense of All Prescriptivism - it's a defense of this prescriptivism, in this context, for these reasons. (He would have hated that use of "in this context," btw. It's OK. I still consider myself a descriptivist.)

And about what M.N. identifies as the real problem - that lesser writers have poorly imitated all this defocusing and nuanced hedging - I think Tim has it exactly right:

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(again, via +Tim Carmody)
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