Oh, before I forget, if you're interested in the best general write-up on SSDs I've yet seen you should read this article from Anandtech. Generally I prefer the stuff at Arstechnica but I've yet to see anyone with an article this thorough and excellent on SSDs. Well done, guys. Speaking of which, OCZ Vertex 120GB are under $400. OCZ, you've earned my faith by this one. I'll choose you guys when I have cash to blow via pricegrabber.
There are endless good recipes on the Pioneer Woman's website. I had an abundance of Chicken, I check under Entrees->Chicken and find Braised Chicken and Parmesan Crusted Chicken. I've tried the Parmesan Crusted Chicken and the Braised Chicken. The Parmesan Crusted Chicken was pretty fantastic. Braised Chicken was tasty but I didn't like it as much.
The International Lisp Conference '09 has been going on and different people have said different things about it. Andy Wingo seems to have some decentwriteups. Sadly, some of the things he say make me think of what Paul Snively said in his Road To Lisp survey (which I realize is likely quite dated), "My own thinking is that Lisp is the cockroach of programming languages: it'll be the only one left after the apocalypse. Not bad for a dead language." Maybe in a few decades I can hope I don't suffer the bias of echo chambers. Maybe not.
Last but not least I'll just note that I'm really enjoying Elbow tonight while doing math. Really enjoying it.
I can't believe it's only been 8 days since I posted last. Life has been moving at an insane speed but I've been really happy. A lot of things are just sort of coming together lately and I have to say it's a pretty pleasant change of pace. Dad's on the mend. We don't have the cancer beat but it's certainly at bay for a little while. He'll likely never be out of the woods completely. Schoolwork is going pretty well. I haven't been working absolutely as hard as I can but I have low A's or high B's in all my courses. I planned out my course schedule for the next few semesters and figured out that I'll graduate in December of 2010. That's with 4 course summer sessions. It's longer than I'd like but nothing from Oglethorpe carries anywhere. Plus CS is my second time switching majors so I was practically starting over. *sigh* Still, I have a plan and that's pretty nice. I also did taxes this week and found out I'll get a $1500 rebate.
You also may notice that redlinernotes.com is going significantly faster of late. I finally manned up and began paying for "real hosting". There are a number of benefits, not least of which are freeing up my home connection from requiring a Static IP. Moreover, the upload speed and latency are much, much better at the hosting facility. It's a Virtual Private Server running ArchLinux which I purchased through Linode. It's $20 a month and so far I couldn't be happier with it. I may do web development on it in Haskell, Scheme or Lisp at some point but that's down the road a bit.
Not everything is roses though. I got hosed on my berrics predictions. Of course, I blame Steve Berra. Marc and Steve were supposed to have a nice game of skate but then Steve caught something awful that looks like chicken pox. Instead of putting the round off further, Steve MC'd and pitted Marc against Johnny Layton who failed to make his first round appearance. Marc was definitely having an off day. He missed like 4 tricks before beginning to hit his stride and it was too little, too late. If I recall Marc missed a regular 360 flip and a nollie flip. It was painful to watch. Anyway, my whole bracket is F-ed.
I'm having a Street Fighter IV tournament tonight. I've been spending a lot of time working on my game this week. For some reason I get really competitive about fighting games but only fighting games. I don't think SF4 has the mass appeal or the elegance of Smash Bros though. I'll probably try to write more on that later and I should acknowledge I have a strong bias that I'm trying to compensate for from years of Smash Bros play. So far I've settled on Fei Long as my main character and I'm planning to spend some time getting decent with Gouken as my secondary. The tournament should be fun, at any rate.
Other than that, I'm having trouble thinking of what else has been going on. The one bug in Linux that's been bugging me is fixed upstream so the next ALSA release will make me pretty damn happy. I'm increasingly enamored with Haskell. I'm slowly beginning to work my way through Real World Haskell and plan to spend a good bit more time on it over spring break (March 8th-14th if you were wondering). It's the only language I've seen that seems like it can handle issues of parallelism and concurrency more or less today. I'm definitely keeping a close eye on it.
I didn't even realize I hadn't posted in over a week. I just got through the first big "crunch period" in school and did pretty well. This weekend will be relaxation and unwinding to a pretty large extent. So what's happened besides the school stuff?
I got Street Fighter IV. I am planning on throwing a tournament...details forthcoming. I already think I prefer my Smash Bros tournaments. I'm enjoying Fleet Foxes and also The Stills and Vampire Weekend at moment. Mmm, mmm, music. ArchLinux finally put out a new release for the first time in a while. They're also going to try to drop releases with each Kernel release from now on which would be pretty damn cool. A distro that releases 4 times a year? Watch out. Not that most of us Archers don't just install and roll along... This is my jam and beautifully and entertainingly explains what I'm trying to say about parallel programming and the future. It also advocates haskell a bit which is nice. This just generally talks smack about for loops which is not a bad thing. I'm so sick of for loops. I'm not going to get into my snobbery right here. Just know that the fact that I ought to learn C for the future so I can deal with the past is a little frustrating at times. Finally, I'm 3 for 3 on my berrics predictions and with any luck I'll be 4 for 4 this weekend when Marc Johnson finally fights Steve Berra.
A lot has been happening lately and I guess I've been too wrapped up in it to write anything down here. I've been readmitted to SPSU for the Spring 09 semester, have filed the FAFSA and am currently looking into financial aid options. I'll have more on that soon but I am planning on going. Better to be there and learning than out of school doing Help Desk work and not learning enough about programming. That said, I'm totally out of funds about now and a part-time Help Desk position would be wonderful for the foreseeable future (i.e. post starting at SPSU). Or a contract position until school starts.
Will also got back in touch with me which I was quite happy about and I made some changes at his suggestion to my little hangman program. It's down to 115 lines of code and is pretty polished at this point. The only way to go forward would be to add new features but I'll put that aside until I've finished PCL. I also may have a quick weekend project to write a BASH script for RedLinux in the near future thanks to some of thegreat resources at the Linux Documentation Project. I've got some ideas for a future RedLinux release but I'll likely put that off until December or so.
That's all for now. I'm off to skateboard and shower while there's still some good sunshine out before hunkering down with more lisp. Did I mention a new version of SBCL came out? Don't forget to vote tomorrow. Keep an eye on things with the help of Peter Seibel and Randall Munroe! Fivethirtyeight.com won't hurt either. ;-)
Wow. What a day. I've been managing to keep fairly busy lately but also enjoying myself a good deal. So what's in store today? A word about music, a bit about games, some programming thoughts (on Factor and Common Lisp) and a mention of RedLinux.
Music: Four Tet has been making me really happy for the past 24-48 hours. I've known and liked Four Tet for a few years now but I think just how good he is at what he's doing only hit me recently. Two tracks did the trick for me and both are off his album Everything is Ecstatic. One is titled 'Smile Around The Face' and the other is titled 'And Then Patterns'. I'm posting a streaming link to 'Smile Around The Face' because it's awesome. There's a pretty interesting list of his 9 most influential records here and some interviews here and here that I may read later. As a sidenote, I'm jealous of all those NCF kids and their Walls. I want to throw a wall. If I did though I'd probably be silly/lame and try to sneak this track in...
Games: I've been saying that one of my favorite things about the new game consoles is the downloadable games. Xbox 360 and PS3 seem particularly strong in this category to me though the Wii has old mainstays from Nintendo lore to prop it up. I've already mentioned echochrome and everyday shooter here in the past and they're both quite good but I don't think I've mentioned Super Stardust HD. It has been and continues to be simply delightful. Some video tips on the game were recently released as a free downloaded on the PSN and convinced me to pick up the $4.99 single player expansion pack. They also released a free patch for the game so that you could play music off the PS3 hard drive once that functionality was possible through firmware updates. If anyone who has worked on the game is reading this: Excellent, excellent work guys. Really. This is how to build a title and continually improve it, create community, etc. I look forward to your future releases.
Languages: I'm going to separate my blathering here into sub-ramblings based upon the language concerned. First up, Common Lisp. I've been having some fun working with a friend to get a simple Gmail scraper/wrapper API developed in Common Lisp that would allow me to connect to accounts grab and compose messages, etc. We were relying on a CL library named mel-base to achieve this. I've been doing development locally and in the process gotten a bit more familiar with SBCL, SLIME and ASDF-Install. I've definitely come around to the idea that there is a place for both Common Lisp and Scheme which I, in misguided form, derided some time back. There are certainly pros and cons to each. At any rate, the combination of ASDF-Install, SBCL and SLIME is pretty great. That said, I realized after a bit of tinkering that mel-base lacks SSL support even here in 2008. That means it won't work with most (if not all) of today's web-based e-mail services which require SSL to encrypt the connection to the server (you know, so people can't steal your password and e-mails). I'm quite surprised it isn't there by now but assume the maintainer has been busy. Luckily, there is a CL library for SSL called CL+SSL, appropriately. I'm very tempted to find a way to patch SSL support (with a dependency on CL+SSL, of course) into the POP3, IMAP and SMTP folders in mel-base and contribute the patch upstream for the next release. I have no idea what I'd be doing really and I'm fairly intimidated but it seems like a good start and a reasonable place to help and try my hand. There are some other people who have pursued this though that I should get in touch with first to make sure no patches are already in circulation for SSL. Next up, Factor. I've been interested in stack-based languages since I first learned of them and still am quite intent on learning Forth in the near future. Possibly as my first non-lisp language. I stumbled into some blog entries by Phil Dawes on why he likes Factor and has enjoyed learning it. He also has an excellent post digging down into the versatility and usefulness of the compiler. Speaking of which, the Planet Factor blog offers some of the clearest insight into the development and internals of a programming language I've ever read, particularly one as young as Factor. Keep an eye on this one. You've got one more year, Slava. I want my 1.0.
RedLinux and Logos: I'm solidifying "plans" for the v.08 update to RedLinux. You can catch a glimpse at the changelog. I also have some logo designs (Thanks, Neil!) for the lambdabang, I just need to decide on size and color. Once I get a logo for RedLinux, I'll start working on the web page for it and get the ISOs up. End of September? We just might be able to do that.
So, I'm still into skateboarding these days. I don't mention that too much and I don't go skating as much as I'd like but it's true. I originally got into skateboarding because a dear friend twisted my arm to get me to play the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater video game on the Playstation 1. God...I feel old now. Did I mention I just turned 22 last Wednesday? It didn't hit until I had to fly to Chicago for business the next day though. I was like, "It's August 7th, 2008? OMG WTF!!". Really.
Anyway, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was awesome. I think what really captured my imagination was flip tricks. Frankly, I didn't know you could do any tricks at all with skateboards except maybe wheelies (manuals in the common parlance). Wheelies were one thing but the fact that people could jump in the air flip the board over under their feet and land and keep going just surprised me. Neversoft (the developer's of the Tony Hawk's series of games) produced a few more good titles and then had a sharp turn downhill. They were fun games but I worried another good skateboarding game wouldn't get made. Then EA (of all developers) came along last year and released skate. It was beautiful. In so much as you can get a skateboarding game right, they got it right. There's room for nitpicking but the nits are utterly trivial.
And EA is a big conglomerate. You don't expect them to do something that's true to skateboarding and it's culture. You expect cash-in, thanks for your money type work but skate was quality and I was converted. Skate 2 was recently announced and is, by all appearances, going to be fantastic but there's no official word on a release date. It flits from November 08 to March 09 so quickly I could punch a baby in frustration. Maybe not.
Anyway, they're naturally adding more professional skateboarders and companies to the lineup in the game but you can't add everybody. To that effect, a friend and I decided to figure that problem out. The solution, of course, is to cap the game at 50 riders. A representative sample of the world's top skateboarders, right? Well, that's what I figure. To keep the sample somewhat broad, choose 16 of the major board companies and restrict yourself to selecting 3 skateboarders from any given company (that makes 48) with room for two exception companies from which you'll pick 4 riders (50).
I selected all professionals (to my knowledge) and by only choosing pros on board companies I've effectively ruled that if you don't have a pro board you're not pro (sorry, Javier Sarmiento. you know I love you). This could be adjusted to allow for rippers who lack a board sponsor like Javier (inexplicable!) or to allow ams. Obviously, the roster will reflect my friend and I's biases circa 2008. To be fair, I've been bad at keeping up with skateboard news over the last two years (Dude! Boulala's in jail? The Firm shut down? Damn!) but I saw somewhere north of 70% of team videos (shop and indie vids are out) and magazine videos from 2002-2006. Alright, 16 companies, 50 riders. Go!
Alien Workshop: Dill, Kirchart, Saari Almost: Haslam, Lutzka, Mullen Baker: Kennedy, Reynolds, Romero Blind: Brown, Creager, Laitala Cliche: Brezinski, Nuske, Puig Chocolate: Anderson, Calloway, Johnson Darkstar: Gagnon, Machnau, Thomas Element: Barbee, Stanton, Tim Tim Enjoi: Barletta, Foster, Hsu Flip: Appleyard, Burnquist, Glifberg, Rowley ; calling a 4 Girl: Anderson, Carroll, Koston, McCrank ; calling another 4sie Habitat: Baxter-Neal, Getz, Janoski Plan B: Duffy, Gallant, Way Santa Cruz: Carolino, De Gros, Marfaing Toy Machine: Bucchieri, Harmony, Marks Zero: Cole, Rattray, Thomas
One of the games I'm most excited about coming out this year is called echochrome. It's coming out for Playstation 3 and the PSP. No US release date has been announced but it will land in Japan on March 19th. While I normally don't bother with writing about games, this one's special. It's one of the most novel concepts for a game I've seen in years. In short: you rotate a scene featuring an Impossible Object such that an automated walking man can navigate it. It's a perspective-based puzzle game. Here look:
Also, everybody is writing about CS Education lately which is awesome considering I've been thinking about it so much. Just look at all this mess:
It may sound like a cop-out but I think Abelson and Sussman had this right all along. We're so hopelessly early in the existence of Computer Science as a discipline that we don't have a clue what it really is yet. And when you don't know what something is, it's pretty hard to know how to present it. Or steer it's course. That's all for now.
Anyway, I've been reading someinterviews with the developer behind the game Jonathan Mak. (Yes, it's one guy. That takes you back to the early 90s doesn't it? When games could still be developed by one guy and all.) He's really cool and wrote something really cool about why games don't work as open source. It's one of the best arguments I've ever heard.
Also, I had this thought today which is possibly trite and stupid but intrigued me enough to jot down: "There are two kinds of advances in computing. Advances in what is computable and advances in what is worth computing. P=NP is an example of the former, Moore's Law is an example of the latter."
I've also been thinking about trying to get some of my writing published (my poetry) and reading awesome stuff about Linux, the PS3, Programming, etc and I'll try to write some more about all that soon.
/*Right now, I need to stop avoiding/not writing this C Program due tomorrow. I got sort of wrapped up talking to my folks about whether or not I could transer/get into GA Tech and whether that would be a better path than being self-taught or taking time off. Your thoughts?*/
It's been a nice, leisurely weekend thus far. I've been meaning to post more and to post some things that are a bit less technical but I've been bad about making the time of late. This is a smattering of things that have been backed up in my head.
I realized recently that there's a Milosz poem I never threw up here that I really wished I had. It's titled Diary of a Naturalist and taken out of his work From The Rising of The Sun.
My generation was lost. Cities too. And nations. But all this a little later. Meanwhile, in the window, a swallow Performs its rite of the second. That boy, does he already suspect That beauty is always elsewhere and always delusive? Now he sees his homeland. At the time of the second mowing. Roads winding uphill and down. Pine groves. Lakes. An overcast sky with one slanting ray. And everywhere men with scythes, in shirts of unbleached linen And the dark-blue trousers that were common in the province. He sees what I see even now. Oh but he was clever, Attentive, as if things were instantly changed by memory. Riding in a cart, he looked back to retain as much as possible. Which means he knew what was needed for some ultimate moment When he would compose from fragments a world perfect at last.
Isn't that nice? Here's one I wrote that just sort of flew out this afternoon: The world is not chaos or justice, Mere good and bad happening all round. Swept under the rug in our wake, Dust returning to dust, in clumps at that. We do not like to go quietly, or alone. But what of the unquantifiable interim? Ah, qualified not quantified: Rich, peerless, Are there stories greater than our own? Certainly not with more twists, turns, surprises. Still, here I am, trying to understand how: I have become trapped like a fly in amber. Like those who have come before me, now Teachers, who sought after explications for the Milieu of an era, the abstract of an age.
I'm not sure what I think but I may be warming up to it. Now that that's out of the way.
Top 5 Books I couldn't live without: Unattainable Earth by Czeslaw Milosz Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton The Success of Open Source by Steven Weber The Future of Ideas by Lawrence Lessig
Honorable Mentions: Selected Essays by Jerzy Kosinski The Blue Octavo Notebooks by Franz Kafka The Trial by Frans Kafka Tender is the Night OR The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Of late, I've also really been enjoying reading Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston. If you're considering ever starting your own company or if you'd just be edified by reading about people succeeding outside the system/convention and innovating I'd highly recommend picking it up. There's also a book called Coders at Work in progress at the same publisher by a different author. That book is composed of interviews with some of the world's premiere programmers and it may find it's way onto the can't live without list. At least, I expect it will.
As my last point today, I'd like to congratulate Electronic Arts. They have successfully made the first good skateboarding video game in years. This is a huge thing for me because I love skateboarding games because I'm a big skate nerd and it's taken way too long for someone to best Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. Honestly, what happened to you Neversoft? Anyway, I highly endorse EA Blackbox's new game skate. It's amazz-z-zing. I might need to end up getting one more game console after all. Alright, more later folks.